Philosophy Research

This a collection of UM-Flint Philosophy Department faculty publications, including books, chapters in edited anthologies, and journal articles. 

Philosophy students can get involved with the department as supplemental instructors, research assistants, and participate in and organize the Michigan Undergraduate Philosophy Conference

Books by Dr. Jami Anderson

The Philosophy of Autism

  The Philosophy of Autism

  Edited by Dr. Jami L. Anderson and Dr. Simon Cushing

  This book examines autism from the tradition of analytic philosophy, working from the premise that Autism Spectrum Disorders raise interesting philosophical  questions that need to be and can be addressed in a manner that is clear, jargon-free, and accessible. The goal of the original essays in this book is to provide a  philosophically rich analysis of issues raised by autism and to afford dignity and respect to those impacted by autism by placing it at the center of the discussion.


Race, Gender, and Sexuality: Philosophical Issues of Identity and Justice

 This anthology of contemporary articles (and court cases provides a philosophical analysis of race, sex and gender concepts and issues.  Divided into three relatively independent yet thematically linked sections, the anthology first addresses identity issues, then injustices and  inequalities, and then specific social and legal issues relevant to race, sex and gender. By exposing readers to both theoretical foundations,  opposing views, and "real life" applications, the anthology prepares them to make critically reasoned decisions concerning today's race,  gender and sex social issues. Sex and Gender Identity. Sexuality and Sexual Orientation. Race and Ethnicity. Racism. Sexism. Heterosexism  and Homophobia. Equality and Preferential Treatment. Discriminatory Harassment. Identity Speech and Political Speech. Sexual Speech. Sexual  Assault. For anyone interested in the philosophical underpinnings of today's Race, Sex, and Gender issues.

Book Chapters by Dr. Jami Anderson

Reframing Punishment: Making Visible Bodies, Silence and De-humanisation (forthcoming)

Edited by Selina Doran and Laura Bottell

Chapter Title: "Remorse and Responsibility: Discipline and Punishment in Light of Autism" 


If one can judge a society by how it treats its prisoners, one can surely judge a society by how it treats cognitively- and learning-impaired children.  In the United States children with physical and cognitive impairments are subjected to higher rates of corporal punishment than are non-disabled children.  Children with disabilities make up just over 13% of the student population in the U.S. yet make up over 18% of those children who receive corporal punishment.  Autistic children are among the most likely to receive corporal punishment. 

Although they may deny or redescribe particular instances of corporal punishment or their use of restraints, educators defend such actions as legitimate punishment.  In this paper, I assess the logic underlying the use of restraints and corporal punishment on autistic children by educators.  The rationalizations for the corporal punishment or restraint of autistics stems from the educator’s desire to control the autistic children so as to end typical autistic behaviors such as rocking, repetitive verbalizations, or “flapping” but also the autistic child’s non-affective responses such as not appearing to feel remorse or shame or the absence of a verbal acknowledgement of remorse or shame.  The educators assume that the autistic’s failure to exhibit the desired responses is evidence of the autistic’s moral incorrigibility and is, therefore, evidence of the appropriateness of corporal punishment.  But this assumption of the incorrigibility of the autistic child is questionable. 

Indeed accepting this incorrigibility assumption reveals two important problems.  First, instructors using physical punishment on autistic children do not understand autism.  Second, they are not working with a tenable conception of punishment.  Any action undertaken to induce socially acceptable behaviors (whether it be the end of autistic acts or responses such as remorse) is to fail to understand what the legitimate punishment of children is about.

Breaking Bad: Critical Essays on the Contexts, Politics, and Reception of the Television Series

Edited by David Pierson

Chapter Title: "A Life Not Worth Living"


What is so striking about Breaking Bad is how centrally impairment and disability feature in the lives of the characters of this series.  It is unusual for a television series to cast characters with visible or invisible impairments.   On the rare occasions that television shows do have characters with impairments, these characters serve no purpose other than to contribute to their ‘Otherness.’   Breaking Bad not only centralizes impairment, but impairment drives and sustains the story lines. 

I use three interrelated themes from Disability Scholarship to analyze Breaking Bad.  The first theme, Bodily Control, is that good bodies are controlled bodies and that uncontrolled, messy bodies are frightening, bad bodies.  Indeed, the messiness of impairment and disability is so bad, that impaired and disabled individuals are excluded or shut out or excluded from many areas of public life.   The second theme, Normalcy, is that the effect of hiding away impairment, of attempting to conceal disability, is that society becomes defined by, and structured around, the concept of normalcy.  Normalcy, being normal, attaining and maintaining normalcy, is the preoccupation of most in society.  To fail to be normal, or to fall from what is considered to be normal, is a source of tremendous anxiety for most people.  These two themes, Bodily Control and Normalcy are conceptually connected: impairment, disease and dying are so feared because they are socially invisible and, therefore unknown and unknowable.  They are the undiscussable taboos.  The third theme, Bodily Realism, is that having a realistic view of the body, which would at minimum require accepting the fact that human bodies are fragile things, prone to disease and accident and are ultimately destined to die, makes one more at ease in the world, and able to live better lives and live as a better person.  Indeed, so the argument goes, our lives would be richer, more rewarding—emotionally and morally—if we cared less about normalcy because of a dread of abnormalcy, but instead learned to accept if not positively value the physical variability of human existence.

The Philosophy of Autism

Edited by Dr. Jami L. Anderson and Dr Simon Cushing

Chapter Title: "A Dash of Autism"


In this chapter, I describe my “post-diagnosis” experiences as the parent of an autistic child, those years in which I tried, but failed, to make sense of the overwhelming and often nonsensical information I received about autism. I argue that immediately after being given an autism diagnosis, parents are pressured into making what amounts to a life-long commitment to a therapy program that (they are told) will not only dramatically change their child, but their family’s financial situation and even their entire mode of existence. Moreover, despite information overload, many treatment programs for autism rely on empty jargon and make completely unrealistic promises, so parents are left feeling overwhelmed and panicked. Even well respected therapy programs encourage parents to spend liberally. Indeed, autistic therapists, who help construct what I refer to as the Culture of Autism, advise parents to commit to a minimum of 35 to 45 hours of intensive therapy every week. The implications are clear: for a parent who works full-time, their autistic child becomes a second full-time job. Autism is big business right now, and therapists are pushing parents to the brink of desperation. So it is not too surprising that there is a desperate cry for a more permanent solution—which is why researchers seek to cure autism. But there are two ways to conceptualize cure. A Therapeutic Cure model (TC) conceives of a cure as a beneficial treatment for the patient that eliminates or ameliorates the harms of the disease or condition. But the notion of a therapeutic cure for autism is highly implausible, given the complexities of autism. Indeed, at this point, the vast majority of researchers have come to the conclusion that the idea of a therapeutic cure for autism is simply a non-starter. Therefore the bulk of research seeking a cure for autism focuses instead on a second approach, which I refer to as the Negative Eugenics Cure model (NEC). With this model, the intention is to eliminate the disease or condition without regard for the health or well-being of the organism carrying the disease or condition. So, with regard to autism, researchers are focusing on identifying genetic markers for autism that can be detected in utero, or in embryos, so that autistic fetuses can be eliminated and autism eradicated by preventing the existence of autistic individuals. I review both models and argue that both fail to provide convincing arguments that the “solution” either offers is desirable. Both rest on the assumption that autism renders a life not worth living which, all things considered, is false. Instead of pushing to cure autism, an idea pervasive in this Culture of Autism, I contend that autistics are individuals with lives worth living. Moreover, rather than expend millions on research to search for the means to eliminate autism, we should instead expend our resources to ensure autistic individuals have access to support they may need. If the phenomenology of autism were better understood and appreciated, the panicked demand for a cure for autism might abate and perhaps autism could be seen as having value in and of its own right.


Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll: Psychological, Legal and Cultural Examination of Sex and Sexuality

Edited by Helen Gavin and Jacquelyn Bent 

Chapter Title: "Comprehending the Distinctively Sexual Nature of the Conduct" 

Since the 1970s, sexual assault laws have evolved to include prohibitions of sexual acts with mentally retarded individuals. The argument justifying this prohibition is typically as follows:

A sex act that is forced (without the legally valid consent of) someone is sexual assault.
Mentally retarded individuals, because they lack certain intellectual abilities, cannot give legally valid consent.

Therefore, mentally retarded individuals cannot consent to sex. Therefore, sex acts with mentally retarded individuals is sexual assault. The prohibition of sex with mentally retarded individuals is regarded by many as a significant advance. It certainly seems to be an improvement upon the days in which individuals could engage in sex with mentally retarded adults with impunity regardless of the physical, emotional and psychological consequences such sex acts caused for the mentally retarded individuals. Yet, this legislation raises serious puzzles. For example, in the U.S., mentally retarded individuals are routinely convicted for sexual assault with non-mentally retarded minors. How should we think about the conviction of a mentally retarded individual who has sex with an underage, non-mentally retarded individual? Does this imply that mentally retarded persons are capable of understanding the criminality of failing to obtain legal consent while being, nonetheless, incapable of giving such consent? Should the law address only those cases in which her both or neither of the individuals involved are mentally retarded? If so, why? 

In this paper, I claim that shifting the analysis to one based on harms (away from legal standards of consent) better captures our intuitions about sex acts involving mentally retarded individuals. (Indeed, a review of case law reveals a focus within these cases on the harms experienced by the mentally retarded individuals involved.) I close the paper by identifying the difficulties that plague any legislation concerning individuals with mental impairments

Ladies and Gents: Public Toilets and Gender

Edited by Olga Gershenson & Barbara Penner 

Chapter Title: "Bodily Privacy, Toilets, and Sex Discrimination: The Problem of 'Manhood' in a Women's Prison" 

Unjustifiable assumptions about sex and gender roles, the untamable potency of maleness, and gynophobic notions about women's bodies inform and influence a broad range of policy-making institutions in this society. In December 2004, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit continued this ignoble cultural pastime when they decided Everson v. Michigan Department of Corrections. In this decision, the Everson Court accepted the Michigan Department of Correction's claim that “the very manhood” of male prison guards both threatens the safety of female inmates and violates the women's “special sense of privacy in their genitals” and declared that sex-specific employment policies for prison guards is not impermissibly discriminatory. I believe that the Court's decision relies on unacceptable (and offensive) stereotypes about sex, gender and sexuality and it significantly undermines Title VII's power to end discriminatory employment practices

G.W.F. Hegel

Edited by Dudley Knowles 

Chapter Title: "Annulment retributivism: a Hegelian theory of punishment"



Analyzing Moral Issues

Edited by Judith A. Boss 

Chapter Title: "Reciprocity as a Justification for Retributivism"



Technology, Morality and Social Policy

Edited by Yeager Hudson 

Chapter Title: "Understanding Punishment as Annulment"



Journal Articles by Dr. Jami Anderson


"Hegel Knits" 

I have come to think of the activity of knitting, if properly undertaken, as neither mindless nor archaic but can be, to return to the Hegelian discussion introduced above, formative of our personality and the knitwear produced a material embodiment of our freedom. Before explaining this claim, I wish to first discuss three common justifications for knitting that I find in knitting books and magazines. The first, which I refer to as “knitting as useful,” justifies the activity of knitting in terms of it being the most cost-effective way to have access to well-designed necessary knitted clothing. The second justification for knitting, which I refer to as “knitting as therapy,” justifies knitting for its therapeutic value. Knitting, advocates promise, will soothe and enrich your soul. The final justification, which I refer to as “knitting as funky,” justifies knitting in terms of its enabling the knitter entry into the latest lifestyle craze. On this account, to fail to knit is to miss out on what everyone hip is doing and, at some level, to fail to be a part of the “latest thing.” I think all three justifications are, for different reasons, wrong-headed and fail to capture what I think are very important reasons to knit. After briefly examining these accounts, I will lay out my Hegelian analysis of knitting.

Social Philosophy Today

"The White Closet" 

First, whiteness colonizes, appropriates and controls the Other. Whiteness is, then, racist. Second, whiteness is constructed unwittingly. Whites are, it is claimed, unaware of the harms they inflict on a genocidal scale because whiteness, like the air we breathe, is “invisible” to those who construct it and are constructed by it. Whiteness is, then, innocent. I think defining whiteness as innocent racism is troubling for two reasons. First, it leaves whites unaccountable for the acts of racism they perpetuate. Second, I think that the claim that whiteness is invisible “like the air we breathe,” while a powerful and fascinating metaphor, is mistaken. I will argue that whiteness is closeted; and while the closet makes the acknowledgement of whiteness difficult, it does not make it impossible. Thus, though closeted, whites are morally accountable for the acts of racism they commit.

Legal Theory

"ANNULMENT RETRIBUTIVISM: A Hegelian Theory of Punishment" 

Despite the bad press that retributivism often receives, the basic assumptions on which this theory of punishment rests are generally regarded as being attractive and compelling. First of these is the assumption that persons are morally responsible agents and that social practices, such as criminal punishment, must acknowledge that fact. Additionally, retributivism is committed to the claim that punishment must be proportionate to the crime, and not determined by such utilitarian concerns as the welfare of society, or the hope of deterring other criminals. Because the most commonly discussed version of retributivism is developed from Kant's moral and legal theory, I will refer to it as Kantian Retributivism. Despite its appeal, Kantian Retributivism cannot provide a satisfactory response to a kind of case that is receiving increasingly serious consideration in philosophical literature. The case is this: Many crimes are committed by individuals profoundly disadvantaged by unjust social institutions, such as racism, classism, and/or sexism. If such individuals commit crimes, the retributivist is placed in a very difficult position: Either she must claim that the individual has willfully committed a crime and for that reason deserves punishment, seeming to ignore entirely the social background of the individual, or she can claim that the individual—in virtue of being disadvantaged by social injustices(s)—does not deserve punishment because such punishment would be unfair. I have argued elsewhere that neither strategy is tenable.

Criminal Justice Ethics

"Reciprocity as a Justification for Retributivism" 

Retributivism is regarded by many as an attractive theory of punishment. Its primary assumption is that persons are morally responsible agents, and it demands that the social practices of punishment acknowledge that agency. But others have criticized retributivism as being barbaric, claiming that the theory is nothing more than a rationalization for revenge that fails to offer a compelling non-consequentialist justification for the infliction of harm. Much of the contemporary philosophical literature on retributivism has attempted to meet this criticism. One common move has been to recast retributivism within the social contractarian tradition. The argument is that the justification for retributive punishment flows naturally from social contractarian political theories. Thus, not only is it reasonable to claim that wrongdoers merit punishment independent of any consequentialist concerns, but that fairness requires retributive punishment. While allying retributivism with social contractarianism provides retributivism with a nonconsequentialist justification for punishment (one fuller and less problematic than the conception of "desert" that worries the critics of retributivism), I will argue that far from strengthening the justification of retributivism, social contractarianism weakens it. For this version of the theory invites the Marxist charge that our society is ordered by profoundly unfair political and social institutions, and that to justify punishing the criminals disadvantaged by such institutions with the claim that fairness requires their punishment approaches a cruel joke. Some have defended the contractarian-based theory of retributivism against the Marxist criticism by claiming that it does not require the punishment of such individuals precisely because social relations are unfair. I will conclude in this paper that although such a move is appealing, it is untenable. And if such a move is not open to the retributivist, she is now in the uncomfortable position of either turning a blind eye to the injustices by which many criminals are victimized or abandoning her retributivist intuitions (the very intuitions that drove her to social contractarianism to bolster her theory of retributivism in the first place). I will conclude that attempts to bolster retributivism by appeal to social contractarianism should be abandoned and retributivists ought instead to seek to develop their theory of punishment within an alternative type of political theory.


Books by Dr. Simon Cushing

The Philosophy of Autism

Edited by Dr. Jami L. Anderson and Dr. Simon Cushing 

Chapter details forthcoming.




Book Chapters by Dr. Simon Cushing

Challenging Evil: Time, Society and Changing Concepts of the Meaning of Evil

Edited by Johannes Schlegel & Brita Hansen 

"Evil, Freedom and the Heaven Dilemma" 

The Free Will Defence, most vigorously pressed by Alvin Plantinga, is considered to be the most powerful response to the claim that the problem of evil ('how can an omnipotent, all-good God allow evil?') can be used as an argument against theism. The defence rests on two core claims, both necessary: FWD (1) You cannot have a state of existence containing beings with free will without it being accompanied by evil; FWD (2) A state of existence without both free will and the resulting evil is better than one without either (no matter how pleasant that world might be). Let us assume that the following things are true of Heaven: H1. Heaven is the best possible state of existence; H2 There is no evil in Heaven. With that in mind we can ask: Do we have free will in Heaven? The response must be either: a) Yes, in which case FWD (1) is false, or b) No, in which case FWD (2) is false. Hence the Heaven Dilemma: either way, one of the two essential assumptions of the Free Will Defense is false. I consider various possible theistic responses to this dilemma, several involving different taxonomies of evil.

Layers of Dying and Death

Edited by Kate Woodthorpe 

"Don't Fear the Reaper: An Epicurean Answer To Puzzles about Death and Injustice" 

I begin by sketching the Epicurean position on death - that it cannot be bad for the one who dies because she no longer exists - which has struck many people as specious. However, alternative views must specify who is wronged by death (the dead person?), what is the harm (suffering?), and when does the harm take place (before death, when you're not dead yet, or after death, when you're not around any more?). In the second section I outline the most sophisticated anti-Epicurean view, the deprivation account, according to which someone who dies is harmed to the extent that the death has deprived her of goods she would otherwise have had. In the third section I argue that deprivation accounts that use the philosophical tool of possible worlds have the counterintuitive implication that we are harmed in the actual world because counterfactual versions of us lead fantastic lives in other possible worlds. In the final section I outline a neo-Epicurean position that explains how one can be wronged by being killed without being harmed by death and how it is possible to defend intuitions about injustice without problematic appeal to possible worlds.

Technology, Morality and Social Policy

Edited by Yeager Hudson 

Chapter Title: "Agreement in Social Contract Theories: Locke vs. Rawls"




Journal Articles by Dr. Simon Cushing

Journal of Value Inquiry

"Justification, Legitimacy, and Social Embeddedness: Locke and Rawls on Society and the State" 

“The fundamental question of political philosophy,” wrote Robert Nozick memorably, “is whether there should be any state at all.” A. John Simmons concurs. For him, the task of “justifying the state” must take the following form: we should assume anarchism as a theoretical baseline and demonstrate that there can be at least one state type that is neither immoral nor inadvisable. Justification is a separate task, however, from showing that any particular state is legitimate for a particular individual, which means that the former has the right to rule over the latter. In “Justification and Legitimacy” Simmons contends that Locke's political philosophy provides the model for the conceptual distinction between state justification and state legitimacy which has been lost in what he terms the Kantian turn of contemporary political philosophy. Modern followers of Kant, John Rawls chief among them, work with a conception of justification that is “doubly relativized” in comparison with the Lockean notion. Instead of providing anarchists with objective reasons for having states, Kantian justification is offered to those who already agree that some kind of state must be justified, and it is justification relative to the moral positions of those who will make up the society in question. This double relativism is regrettable because it obscures the difference between two central ways in which we should (and do) morally evaluate states, and it generates confusions about other serious practical issues, such as those surrounding our moral obligations to comply with law. In particular, Simmons charges that a follower of Kant “in effect tries to make it seem” that state justification is sufficient for state legitimacy. For followers of Kant like Rawls, justification is achieved by a hypothetical social contract, and, according to Simmons, Rawls's view entails that citizens are obligated to obey the laws of their just states because of a hypothetical agreement made by their hypothetical representatives. However, it is a widely held principle that an individual cannot be obligated by the consent of others unless prior consent on her part has granted those others the right to consent for her. But such prior consent would amount to an actual rather than a hypothetical contract. In a recent paper Cynthia Stark calls just this criticism of hypothetical consent theories the “standard indictment” and takes pains to show that it is misguided. She focuses on Rawls and Nagel and contends that for them justification is merely necessary for legitimacy, which would place them in agreement with Simmons, who writes that “the justification of a type of state is necessary for consent to a token of that type to be binding,” where consent, on his view, establishes legitimacy.

Journal of Social Philosophy

"Against “Humanism”: Speciesism, Personhood, and Preference" 

In this paper, I shall argue that humanism is an indefensible moral position, and that speciesism, once properly analyzed, is indeed directly analogous to racism and sexism. The main reason why speciesism is not held to be as serious a wrong as racism or sexism, is, I think, because we now automatically assume that women and nonwhites are moral persons, on an equal footing with white males (in the sense of being entitled to the same basic set of rights and liberties) but assume that nonhumans are not persons in this sense. That is, the central disagreement between humanists and their critics is over the membership criteria for personhood. My paper reflects this concern, as I focus on issues of criteria of personhood to the exclusion of other issues that concern chauvinisms.

Social Philosophy Today

"Liberal Nationalism, Culture, and Justice" 

Over the past ten years or so, the position of Liberal Nationalism has progressed from being an apparent oxymoron to a widely accepted view. In this paper I sketch the most prominent liberal defenses of nationalism, focusing first on the difficulties of specifying criteria of nationhood, then criticizing what I take to be the most promising, culture-based defense, forwarded by Will Kymlicka. I argue that such an approach embroils one in a pernicious conservatism completely at odds with the global justice concerns that I take to be central to liberalism with its core values of equality and liberty.

APA Newsletters: Newsletter on Philosophy and Law

"Rawls and "Duty-Based" Accounts of Political Obligation" 

Since Hobbes at least, all the great political philosophers of the liberal tradition have assumed that humans are in some sense naturally politically free and equal. That being the case, how can one legitimately leave that state and acquire political obligations to institutions that assign inequalities in political authority among individuals? Two contrasting answers to this question have been offered by the most influential members of the contract tradition, John Locke (in his Second Treatise on Government) and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (see especially The Social Contract). Locke was a consent theorist, claiming that "no one can be . . . subjected to the political power of another, without his own consent" (Second Treatise, §95). Rousseau's theory is what one could call a self-legislation account. Notoriously, he argues that with the social contract one remains "as free as before" by becoming part of the general will, obeying the dictates of which makes one both civilly and morally free. 

Neither account has many adherents today; no interpreter has managed to remove the sinister connotations from Rousseau's claim that one can legitimately be "forced to be free," while Locke's consent theory either implies that one can consent without realizing it, or that only a small minority of citizens of a society are actually obligated to its government. Can one be true to the social contract tradition and offer a plausible account of political obligation? For the answer, we must turn to the work of John Rawls, who almost single-handedly resurrected the theory of the social contract in the 20th century.

Southwest Philosophy Review

"Representation and Obligation in Rawls' Social Contract Theory" 

There are two main roles for an account of justification in political philosophy. The first is that of political obligation, of settling the question of which society I am uniquely obligated to.1 The second role for an account of justification is that of establishing whether or not a social system is a just, or more vaguely, a legitimate one. That the two justificatory roles are distinct can be seen by noting that even in a world of many perfectly just societies with perfectly legitimate laws, one would still presumably only be a citizen of one of those countries. These roles are not clearly distinguished in the classic social contract theories of Locke and Rousseau in particular, but there the contract fills both roles, as I will show. Rawls's hypothetical social contract seems designed only to address the second role, but Rawls does in fact explicitly tackle the issue of political obligation in A Theory of Justice, 2 where he tries to remedy the flaws of the classic social contract obligation account with a duty-based account. In this paper I shall assess the criticisms of his account offered by A. John Simmons in his book Moral Principles and Political Obligations3 and a possible response to the criticisms that Samuel Freeman has implicitly offered in his work on Rawlsian social contracts. I conclude, however, that this response rests on an equivocation in Theory and thus fails.

Inter-Disciplinary.Net: Global Conference (2007)

"Reaching For My Gun: Why we shouldn't hear the word “culture” in normative political theory" 

Culture is a notoriously elusive concept. This fact has done nothing to hinder its popularity in contemporary analytic political philosophy among writers like John Rawls, Will Kymlicka, Michael Walzer, David Miller, Iris Marion Young, Joseph Raz, Avishai Margalit and Bikhu Parekh, among many others. However, this should stop, both for the metaphysical reason that the concept of culture, like that of race, is itself either incoherent or lacking a referent in reality, and for several normative reasons. I focus on the following interconnected points:

The vagueness of the term allows a myriad of candidates to claim rights, and typically to the detriment of increased equality (e.g., the claim that homosexual marriage is a “threat to traditional marriage”) and environmental goals (e.g., the polluting rights of the Amish).
Cultural capital cannot be regulated in the way that political capital must be regulated without undermining the cultures supposedly being protected. And the possession of cultural capital is almost never democratically regulated. In particular, granting cultures political status creates intergenerational conflict, rewarding the elders and creating incentives to be conservative and restrict cultural mobility of the younger generation.

The notion of a group owning “its” culture is conceptually suspect and corrupted by the foregoing points about unequal cultural capital. In defending a group's right to preserve its culture we do not defend equally the rights of the individuals that make it up (and assuming that the group paying lip service to liberal values overrides culturally ingrained inequities is to ignore the distinctive ways oppression can be realized in different ways of life), and we ignore altogether the rights of those who may be unfairly denied recognition as “members” of the culture (for example, African Americans enslaved by Native Americans but now excluded from nation membership).

Journal Articles by Dr. Aderemi Artis

An Anthology of Philosophical Studies

"Descartes, Luther, and the Fifth Lateran Council" 


In the letter of dedication to his Meditations on First Philosophy, Descartes presents his work as the fulfillment of the bull produced by the eighth session of the Fifth Lateran Council under pope Leo X. This has not gone unnoticed by scholars, and a number of recent works on Descartes have given attention to the question of how Descartes' thoughts in the Meditations relate to the Council's bull. More specifically, these scholars have investigated how Descartes' treatment of the immortality of the soul relates to the competing doctrines on the soul attacked by the Lateran Council, namely, Alexandrism and Averroism. Recent commentators have largely agreed both that Descartes failed in his attempts to defeat the competing doctrines on the soul or provide a coherent account of the character and grounds of the soul's immortality, and that the immortality of the soul is the chief topic of interest in the Council's bull as it relates to the Meditations. If one accepts these conclusions, then one must also accept that Descartes failed in his attempts to carry out the bull of the Fifth Lateran Council, and, moreover, that the church might well have been correct in placing his work on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, at least according to its own standard of judgment. However, I argue that the main purpose of the eight session was to assert the doctrine of “single truth” against that of “double truth,” and so deny that philosophy has access to truths distinct from or potentially at odds with the truths of faith. I further suggest that the misunderstanding of the meaning of the bull can at least in part be traced to the writings of Martin Luther, and, finally, conclude that Descartes was in fact successful in carrying out the edicts of the Council's bull.

Locke Studies

"Locke and Original Sin"


John Locke is famous for having promoted religious toleration in an age of intolerance, and for advocating a brand of reasonable Christianity. Scholars have linked his form of Christianity to a belief in the power of reason to discover moral truth independently of special revelations, and thus to the belief that human moral and cognitive capacity are fundamentally sound, unscarred by Adam's transgression. Recent scholarship has, however, also emphasized Locke's failure, despite repeated attempts, to produce a purely rational morality, and his corresponding focus on the analysis of scripture in his later publications. Indeed, increasing attention has been paid to Locke's belief that the Christian religion is uniquely positioned to lead believers to moral clarity, and that revealed Christianity is indeed a practical necessity for salvation. I argue that Locke's adherence to the centrality of revelation ultimately derives from original sin; not because original sin defaced human moral and cognitive capacity, but because it resulted in the necessity of labour and drudgery, and this labour makes rational religion a practical impossibility. Finally, I explore some of the ramifications of this view in the political and economic dimensions of Locke's work.

Heythrop Journal 

"Trinitarian Roots of Francis Bacon's Pragmatism" 


From his earliest publications until the last words he penned for publication, Francis Bacon evinced an intense interest in theological and religious issues, and expressed this interest in both public and private. Running parallel to these interests, he was from his own time up to now recognized for his proposals for a grand reform and reconstruction of natural philosophy, in which experience, observation, experiment, and technological implementation of abstract con- ceptual claims all took center stage.2 This practical bent has often neatly been encapsulated in the slogan derived from Bacon himself, ‘knowledge is power.’ The many and interesting connections between these two sets of interest, theological and natural philosophical, have not gone unnoticed by scholars;3 however, one central component of Bacon’s pragmatic approach to natural philosophy that was deeply influenced by his theological concerns has remained unexplored. The equation between knowledge and power, so well known, in fact developed out of Bacon’s conception of the Christian Trinity, and of the relationship between the Trinity and the pursuit of knowledge about nature by humanity. It is the task of this essay to trace the development of this connection from the beginnings of Bacon’s literary career until its end. 

Book Chapters by Dr. Benedicte Veillet

Cognitive Phenomenology

Edited by Tim Bayne and Michelle Montague 

Chapter Title: "The Case Against Cognitive Phenomenology" 
Co-Authored with Peter Carruthers




Journal Articles by Dr. Benedicte Veillet


Philosophical Studies

"The cognitive significance of phenomenal knowledge"

Knowledge of what it’s like to have perceptual experiences, e.g. of what it’s like to see red or taste Turkish coffee, is phenomenal knowledge; and it is knowledge the substantial or significant nature of which is widely assumed to pose a challenge for physicalism. Call this the New Challenge to physicalism. The goal of this paper is to take a closer look at the New Challenge. I show, first, that it is surprisingly difficult to spell out clearly and neutrally what the New Challenge is in fact urging the physicalist to explain. What initially look like plausible or promising ways of making sense of it turn out to be either question begging or insufficient to generate a challenge to physicalism at all. I go on to suggest that what the New Challenge may be asking the physicalist to explain may be the fact that we come to token certain higher-order judgments about the significance of phenomenal knowledge. I end with a discussion of the implications of this interpretation of the New Challenge—which turns out to be as much a challenge for the anti-physicalist as it is for the physicalist.


European Journal of Philosophy

"Belief, Re-identification and Fineness of Grain" 

The so-called 're-identification condition' (Kelly ) has played an important role in the most prominent argument for nonconceptualism, the argument from fineness of grain. A number of authors have recently argued that the condition should be modified or discarded altogether, with devastating implications for the nonconceptualist (see, e.g., Brewer , Chuard ). The aim of this paper is to show that the situation is even more dire for nonconceptualists, for even if the re-identification condition remains in its original form, the argument from fineness of grain still fails to make the case for nonconceptualism. The paper's central case rests on two claims: according to the first, if the re-identification condition holds, then some beliefs will represent some properties nonconceptually; and according to the second, if some beliefs represent some properties nonconceptually, the argument from fineness of grain fails to make the case for nonconceptualism in any relevant sense. It follows that if the re-identification condition holds, the argument from fineness of grain fails to make the case for nonconceptualism.

Philosophical Papers

"In Defense of Phenomenal Concepts" 

In recent debates, both physicalist and anti-physicalist philosophers of mind have come to agree that understanding the nature of phenomenal concepts is key to understanding the nature of phenomenal consciousness itself. Recently, however, Derek Ball (2009) and Michael Tye (2009) have argued that there are no such concepts. Their case is especially troubling because they make use of a type of argument that proponents of phenomenal concepts have typically found persuasive in other contexts; namely, arguments much like those that Tyler Burge used to motivate a certain form of externalism about mental content. The goal of this paper is to defend phenomenal concepts against this line of attack. Burge-style arguments, I contend, cannot be successfully used to make the case that there are no phenomenal concepts. As such, phenomenal concepts must remain central to understanding the nature of phenomenal consciousness.

Journal of Consciousness Studies

"The Phenomenal Concept Strategy" Co-Authored with Peter Carruthers 

A powerful reply to a range of familiar anti-physicalist arguments has recently been developed. According to this reply, our possession of phenomenal concepts can explain the facts that the anti-physicalist claims can only be explained by a non-reductive account of phenomenal consciousness. Chalmers (2006) argues that the phenomenal concept strategy is doomed to fail. This article presents the phenomenal concept strategy, Chalmers' argument against it, and a defence of the strategy against his argument.