Philosophical Inquiries 2024-01-24T15:22:29+00:00 philosophical inquiries Open Journal Systems <div> <p><em>Philosophical Inquiries</em> is an Italian philosophical journal published in English. Its aim is to cover a wide range of philosophical questions of broad interest and belonging to diverse fields, such as epistemology, ethics, metaphysics, aesthetics, philosophy of mind, philosophy of science and philosophy of law. It seeks to bring together international scholars committed to cutting edge research on pressing questions in those fields. <br />Needless to say, the submission system in use on this website is a strict double-blind peer-review process.</p> <p>Indexed in: <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Scopus</a>, Philosopher's Index, Fascia A Anvur (11/C1, C2, C3, C4, C5).</p> </div> Introduction: 15 Year of Discussion on Moral Enhancement 2023-11-21T16:53:47+00:00 Sergio Filippo Magni Elvio Baccarini <p>Improvement in knowledge of the neurobiological bases of behavioural disposition with moral relevance have stimulated ethical reflection on the opportunity to employ biotechnological devices and resources to improve human morality (Clarke, Savulescu, Coady &amp; Giubilini 2016). Discussion on biotechnological moral enhancement, as a separated issue from that of biotechnological cognitive human enhancement, has started after the publication of two seminal articles in 2008: “The Perils of Cognitive Enhancement and the Urgent Imperative to Enhance the Moral Character of Humanity” written by Ingmar Persson &amp; Julian Savulescu, and “Moral Enhancement” written by Thomas Douglas.</p> 2024-01-24T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Sergio Filippo Magni, Elvio Baccarini What We Owe the Future: A Million-Year View, by William MacAskill 2023-11-21T16:50:35+00:00 B.V.E. Hyde <p>Review of: What We Owe the Future: A Million-Year View, by William MacAskill,</p> <p>London: Oneworld Publications, 2022; hardback, 352 pp., £20.00, ISBN: 9780861546138</p> 2024-01-24T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Alistair Miller Public Reason and Biotechnological Moral Enhancement of Criminal Offender 2023-11-21T16:47:33+00:00 Elvio Baccarini <p>There are two prominent classes of arguments in the debate on mandatory biotechnological moral enhancement (MBME) of criminal offenders. Some maintain that these interventions are not permissible because they do not respect some evaluative standards (my illustration is represented by autonomy). Others, however, argue that this type of intervention is legitimate. One of the latter argumentative lines appeals to the reduction of the high costs of incarceration. In this paper, I argue that such polarization in the debate suggests handling the problem of the protection of autonomy in the case of MBME of offenders as an allocative question. Moreover, I offer a novel approach to this question by adopting the Rawlsian method of public reason. According to this method, public decisions are legitimate only if they can be justified through reasons that can be accepted by each free, equal, and epistemically reasonable agent. I argue that, within this framework, for a specific class of criminal offenders, we can conclude that MBME, although undermining a certain form of autonomy, could be legitimately mandatory.&nbsp; Because of reasonable pluralism, the final verdict on legitimacy is made based on the results of fair procedures of decision-making among proposals supported by persons in a condition of reasonable disagreement.</p> 2024-01-24T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Elvio Baccarini Creating Capabilities to be Better 2023-11-21T16:44:05+00:00 Francesca Guma <p>In this paper, I argue that the possibility of becoming better moral agents is related to the possibility of increasing both the opportunity and capacity to will otherwise and the effective conscious control of the will. Believing that it is essential for empirically informed ethics interested in moral enhancement to assess what to enhance and what type of enhancer is preferable, I begin by considering different types of enhancers and different factors on which they perform their action (§ 1). Secondly, I consider some issues arisen by moral enhancement in relation to the agent’s freedom, emphasizing the need to reflect on the effects that such interventions can have on the agency (§ 2). I then propose a conception of free-will which can dialogue with empirical research in order to assess what the best moral enhancers might be and what factors they should act on to achieve real moral enhancements in individuals (§ 3). On such a basis, I assess what and how to enhance to achieve real moral improvement (§ 4) and present empirical proposals for procedural moral enhancement that leave open the possibility of achieving real individual moral improvement (§ 5). Finally, I conclude by stating that seeking out enhancers that can implement the opportunity and capacity to be good can lead to outcomes in which individuals do not become incapable of doing evil, but rather more capable of doing good (§ 6).</p> 2024-01-24T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Francesca Guma Internal and External Moral Enhancements: The Ethical Parity Principle and the Case for a Prioritization 2023-11-21T16:40:52+00:00 Matteo Galletti <p>Is there any moral difference between internal moral enhancements, which directly affect the biological nature of human beings, and external moral enhancements, which nudge choices and behavior without changing human biology? If Neil Levy's Ethical Parity Principle is applied, the answer should be no. Recently, John Danaher has argued that the Ethical Parity Principle is invalid and that there are ethical and political reasons for a prioritization of internal over external moral enhancements. Although Danaher's argument presents some interesting insights, it needs to be corrected with finer-grained distinctions of the types of moral enhancements.</p> 2024-01-24T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Matteo Galletti Moral Knowledge, by Sarah McGrath 2023-02-08T10:23:14+00:00 Luciana Ceri <p>Review of Moral Knowledge, by Sarah McGrath, Oxford University Press, 2019, x, 218 pages.</p> 2023-03-24T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Luciana Ceri The Main Enterprise of the World: Rethinking Education, by Philip Kitcher 2023-02-08T10:16:41+00:00 Alistair Miller <div class="page" title="Page 1"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <p>Review of "The Main Enterprise of the World: Rethinking Education" by Philip Kitcher,&nbsp;Oxford University Press, 2022, xiv, 416 pages</p> </div> </div> </div> 2023-03-24T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Alistair Miller Responses to Critics 2022-12-03T00:57:21+00:00 Sergio Tenenbaum <p>-</p> 2023-03-24T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Sergio Tenenbaum Tenenbaum on Instrumental Reason and the End of Procrastination 2022-11-22T15:03:07+00:00 Matthias Haase <p>In <em data-removefontsize="true" data-originalcomputedfontsize="16">Rational Powers in Action</em>, Sergio Tenenbaum argues that instrumental rationality is constitutively rationality in action. According to his theory, we not only reason <em data-removefontsize="true" data-originalcomputedfontsize="16">to</em> action, we also reason <em data-removefontsize="true" data-originalcomputedfontsize="16">from</em> action: both the major premise and the conclusion of instrumental reasoning are intentional actions in progress. In the paper, I raise three objections. First, the view rests on the assumption of a symmetry between the starting point and the conclusion of instrumental reasoning. But in the cases of telic actions like building a house, the reasoning concludes with the completion of the action. Secondly, Tenenbaum conceives of the nexus between ends and means generally in terms of the relation between a temporally extended whole and its parts. This fails to account for distinction between telic action and conduct or praxis. Third, the theory implies that it is instrumentally irrational to abandon all of one’s ends. But this can’t be shown.</p> 2023-03-24T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Matthias Haase The Action-Guidingness of Rational Principles and the Problem of our own Imperfections 2022-11-14T18:31:25+00:00 Erasmus Mayr <p>The following comment discusses the supposedly action-guiding role of rational principles and the question to what extent our imperfections as human agents should influence what these principles are. According to Sergio Tenenbaum, the principles of instrumental rationality (as stated in his theory) are meant to be action-guiding rather than merely evaluative. In the first part of the comment I look at how this action-guiding role is to be understood, especially when it comes to the pursuit of long-term indeterminate ends. The second part of the comment raises the question of whether the principles included in Tenenbaum’s Extended Theory of Rationality should be supplemented by principles for dealing with our own imperfections. I consider two possible sources for further principles: the risk that we will behave irrationally later on and uncertainty about the effectiveness of the means we take.</p> 2023-03-24T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Erasmus Mayr The Extended Theory of Instrumental Rationality and Means-Ends Coherence 2022-11-14T18:23:15+00:00 John Brunero <p>In <em>Rational Powers in Action</em>, Sergio Tenenbaum sets out a new theory of instrumental rationality that departs from standard discussions of means-ends coherence in the literature on structural rationality in at least two interesting ways: it takes intentional action (as opposed to intention) to be what puts in place the relevant instrumental requirements, and it applies to both necessary and non-necessary means. I consider these two developments in more detail. On the first, I argue that Tenenbaum’s theory is too narrow since there could be instrumental irrationality with respect to an intention to f even if one is not yet engaged in any relevant intentional action. On the second, I argue against Tenenbaum’s claim that “<em>an agent is instrumentally irrational if she knowingly fails to pursue some sufficient means to an end she is pursuing.”&nbsp;</em></p> 2023-03-24T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2023 John Brunero Instrumental Rationality and Proceeding Acceptably over Time 2022-11-14T18:16:40+00:00 Chrisoula Andreou <p>Theories of instrumental rationality often abstract away from the fact that actions are generally temporally extended and from crucial complications associated with this fact. Sergio Tenenbaum’s <em>Rational Powers in Action</em> (2020) reveals and navigates these complications with great acuity, ultimately providing a powerful revisionary picture of instrumental rationality that highlights the extremely limited nature of the standard picture. Given that I share Tenenbaum’s general concerns about the standard picture, my aim is to advance our general approach further by complicating and enriching debate regarding a picture of instrumental rationality that is accountable to the temporally extended nature of our actions and agency via the consideration of a few issues that merit further consideration and exploration. As I explain, despite stemming from or being associated with some important insights, some of the central ideas that Tenenbaum supports need to be qualified, modified, or reconsidered.</p> 2023-03-24T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Chrisoula Andreou Rational Powers and Inaction 2022-11-14T18:05:54+00:00 Sarah K. Paul <p>This discussion of Sergio Tenenbaum’s excellent book, <em>Rational Powers in Action</em>, focuses on two noteworthy aspects of the big picture. First, questions are raised about Tenenbaum’s methodology of giving primacy to cases in which the agent has all the requisite background knowledge, including knowledge of a means that will be sufficient for achieving her end, and no significant false beliefs. Second, the implications of Tenenbaum’s views concerning the rational constraints on revising our ends are examined.</p> 2023-03-24T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Sarah K. Paul Précis of Rational Powers in Action 2022-11-14T17:44:47+00:00 Sergio Tenenbaum <p>Human actions unfold over time, in pursuit of ends that are not fully specified in advance. Rational Powers in Action locates these features of the human condition at the heart of a new theory of instrumental rationality. Where many theories of rational agency focus on instantaneous choices between sharply defined outcomes, treating the temporally extended and partially open-ended character of action as an afterthought, this book argues that the deep structure of instrumental rationality can only be understood if we see how it governs the pursuit of long-term, indeterminate ends. These are ends that cannot be realized through a single momentary action, and whose content leaves partly open what counts as realizing the end. For example, one cannot simply write a book through an instantaneous choice to do so; over time, one must execute a variety of actions to realize one’s goal of writing a book, where one may do a better or worse job of attaining that goal, and what counts as succeeding at it is not fully determined in advance. Even to explain the rational governance of much less ambitious actions like making dinner, this book argues that we need to focus on temporal duration and the indeterminacy of ends in intentional action. Theories of moment-by-moment preference maximization, or indeed any understanding of instrumental rationality on the basis of momentary mental items, cannot capture the fundamental structure of our instrumentally rational capacities. This book puts forward a theory of instrumental rationality as rationality in action.</p> 2023-03-24T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Sergio Tenenbaum <em>Husserl’s Legacy. Phenomenology, Metaphysics and Transcendental Philosophy</em>, by Dan Zahavi 2022-09-09T13:40:51+00:00 Rosario Croce <p>Book review of Dan Zahavi’s <em>Husserl’s Legacy. Phenomenology, Metaphysics and Transcendental Philosophy</em>, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2017.</p> 2022-09-09T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2022 <em>Ethics, Conflict and Medical Treatment for Children: From Disagreement to Dissensus</em>, by D. Wilkinson & J. Savulescu 2022-09-09T13:37:43+00:00 Chiara Innorta <p>Review of D. Wilkinson &amp; J. Savulescu <em>Ethics, Conflict and Medical Treatment for Children: From Disagreement to Dissensus</em>, Elsevier, 2019, 192 pages.</p> 2022-09-09T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2022 The Birth of Habits 2022-07-29T11:27:32+00:00 Victor Egger <p>This journal issue presents, for the first time in English, Victor Egger’s short essay <em>La naissance des habitudes</em>, published in 1880 in the “Annales de la Faculté des Lettres de Bordeaux” (n. 1, pp. 209-223). The translation is based on the original text, the page numbering of which is indicated in square brackets. In order to facilitate the reader’s understanding of some of Egger’s examples, in some cases, the original French is provided in a footnote. Egger’s notes can be found at the foot of the page. Bibliographical additions and translators’ notes are placed between square brackets.<br>The translation of the quotations included in the text is by the translators unless otherwise indicated. We warmly thank Carolyn Benson for the expertise with which she revised this translation.</p> 2022-09-09T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Victor Egger: habit, repetition, and the unconscious 2022-07-29T11:25:40+00:00 Marco Piazza Sofia Sandreschi de Robertis <p>not available</p> 2022-09-09T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Betting and Presuming: From God’s Existence to Morality and Law 2022-07-29T11:23:16+00:00 Alberto Artosi Giovanni Sartor <p>Pascal famously argued that since God transcends the rational domain of demonstration, we must <em>bet</em> on his existence. Less famously, Leibniz claimed that in the absence of a full-fledged demonstration of God’s existence, we at least have to <em>presume</em>, that is to say, to assume, that he exists until the contrary is proved. Aside from marking a significant contrast between these two leading figures of modern philosophy (Leibniz would later reproach Pascal for having “paid attention only to moral arguments”), these two stances are at the origin of two independent developments: decision theory and presumptive reasoning, respectively. In this paper we will provide a critical account of Pascal’s and Leibniz’s lines of thought by first presenting the original arguments and then reconstructing them in light of the developments they gave rise to. Finally, we will advance some remarks about the interplay of presumption and probability in Leibniz’s approach to morality and law.</p> 2022-09-09T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Probable Interplay: Reactions to Epicureanism and Probabilism in the Seventeenth Century 2022-07-29T11:21:02+00:00 Rudolf Schuesser <p>Scholastic probabilism regulated the use of opinions in much of seventeenth-century Catholic moral theology. It should therefore not come as a surprise that it also affected the acceptance of philosophical doctrines like epicureanism in Catholic countries. The ups and downs in the careers of probabilism and epicureanism in Italy are in conspicuous synch as this paper will show, with special emphasis on the Jesuit Cardinal Francesco ‘Pietro’ Sforza Pallavicino. Pallavicino (1607–1667) was one of the leading probabilists of his time and sympathetically discussed epicurean positions in <em>Del bene</em> (1644). Probabilism’s license to favor the convenience and utility of agents in doubt about moral restrictions facilitated the adoption of epicurean attitudes, while opponents criticized probabilism for promoting the ‘prudence of the flesh’, a topos of longstanding anti-epicurean pedigree. The rising storm of opposition against probabilism in the second half of the seventeenth century thus contributed to a worsening of conditions for the spread of epicurean thought, with observable effects in Italy.</p> 2022-09-09T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2022 The Baby Jesus in a Drop of Blood: Evidence, Credibility, and Truth in Post-Reformation Catholicism 2022-07-29T11:18:42+00:00 Stefania Tutino <p>In the spring of 1693, a strange occurrence shook up the peaceful little town of Bolsena. While visiting the site of the well-known medieval miracle, Agostino Berton, a hemp and textile seller, witnessed yet another miracle: the apparition of an image of the baby Jesus inside a drop of blood. In this essay, I examine the investigation conducted by the Roman leaders over this case and discuss its implications for the relationship between credibility and truth in seventeenth-century Catholicism. Over the course of the Middle Ages, theologians, canonists, and jurists had provided an important reconsideration of the category of credibility as both a feature of the Christian faith and a necessary (and, in some cases, sufficient) basis for legal judgment. By the early modern times, credibility had come to occupy a central place in Catholic discourse. This centrality led to novel insight into the relationship between truth and evidence, faith and belief, causing new moral, doctrinal, and epistemological tensions. My essay uses Agostino's story as a springboard to explore some of those tensions.</p> 2022-09-09T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Melchor Cano and the conundrum of historical scholarship: Probability and criticism in the sixteenth century 2022-07-29T11:17:21+00:00 Giuliano Mori <p>This article discusses the role played by the rhetorical-judicial notion of verisimilitude in the sixteenth-century rise of historical criticism. Embracing a dialectical conception of historical facts as something that needed to be extremely probable rather than logically necessary, early modern authors became increasingly concerned with the development of critical tools of verification. Borrowed from the medieval judicial tradition—influenced in turn by classical rhetoric and dialectics—these tools aimed at assessing historical sources and accounts based on their inherent degree of verisimilitude. The judicial background of these tools of assessment explains the rise of historical criticism in environments that were influenced by the innovative legal and philological tradition of the <em>mos gallicus</em> (e.g., François Baudouin, Jean Bodin). Yet, at the same time, it also explains the emergence of similar critical notions among authors who independently integrated humanist, late scholastic, and canonistic interests. This was the case, for instance, with Melchor Cano (d. 1560), whose <em>De locis theologicis</em> predate both Baudoin’s and Bodin’s works, providing one of the earliest examples of a fully developed method of historical criticism.</p> 2022-09-09T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2022 A brief history of the French verb convaincre 2022-07-29T11:15:50+00:00 Francis Goyet <p>As a technical equivalent of the Latin <em>probare</em> or <em>fidem</em> <em>facere</em>, the French <em>convaincre</em> (“to convince”) does not appear in a rhetorical treaty before 1688 (via Pascal), for a simple reason: <em>conuincere</em> is not a technical word in the ancient or modern treatises in Latin. I will show that <em>convaincre</em> comes from another world, the <em>disputatio</em>, and contend that the goal it implies, <em>uictoria</em>, is not the goal of rhetoric qua rhetoric. With the distinction between rhetoric vs. <em>disputatio</em>, the rhetorical proof is equal in dignity to the scientific proof. Otherwise, it is necessarily inferior.</p> 2022-09-09T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Late scholastic probable arguments and their contrast with rhetorical and demonstrative arguments 2022-07-29T11:13:58+00:00 James Franklin <p>Aristotle divided arguments that persuade into the rhetorical (which happen to persuade), the dialectical (which are strong so ought to persuade to some degree) and the demonstrative (which must persuade if rightly understood). Dialectical arguments were long neglected, partly because Aristotle did not write a book about them. But in the sixteenth and seventeenth century late scholastic authors such as Medina, Cano and Soto developed a sound theory of probable arguments, those that have logical and not merely psychological force but fall short of demonstration. Informed by late medieval treatments of the law of evidence and problems in moral theology and aleatory contracts, they considered the reasons that could render legal, moral, theological, commercial and historical arguments strong though not demonstrative. At the same time, demonstrative arguments became better understood as Galileo and other figures of the Scientific Revolution used mathematical proof in arguments in physics. Galileo moved both dialectical and demonstrative arguments into mathematical territory.</p> 2022-09-09T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2022 The Problem of Certainty and the Changing Status of Probable Proofs 2022-07-29T11:10:14+00:00 Barbara J. Shapiro <p>This essay offers a preliminary survey of the development of probabilistic proofs in the early modern period. It examines several disciplines and their adoption of a mode of proof which embraced a scale of probability and whose high point was variously labeled “satisfied conscience,” “mind,” and “understanding,” “moral” as opposed to “mathematical certainty” or “demonstration,” and proof “beyond reasonable doubt.“ Although my focus is on England, I view this essay as part of a broader account that would include French, Italian and Spanish developments and earlier and later periods. I emphasize the long-lived ancient distinction between probability and certain knowledge, and between rhetoric and “science,” arguing that these distinctions played a crucial role in shaping thinking about proof. My account highlights the role of witnessing, the criteria for evaluating testimony, and the possibility of reaching moral certainty, that is, belief beyond reasonable doubt.<br />The first discipline to be examined is history, a discipline characterized by tension between the humanist desire for a rhetorically persuasive narrative on the one hand and truth telling norm on the other. The next to be examined are the probabilistic proofs adopted in several religious contexts. There follows a comparison of continental and English approaches to legal proof. The most challenging intellectual area to be examined is the natural sciences. There I examine efforts to find a probabilistic alternative to “science,” “demonstration” and “mathematical certainty. Scientists sought to adopt “hypothesis” as a means of linking “matters of fact” with generalizations, principles and theory. A brief treatment of Locke and his philosophical successors suggests how probabilistic proofs penetrated English thinking. The concluding section includes a discussion of disciplinary differences and suggestions for a more complete treatment of probable but believable proof.</p> 2022-09-09T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Introduction: Non-Demonstrative Proofs in Early Modern Europe 2022-07-29T11:05:43+00:00 Giuliano Mori <p>Focus introduction.</p> <p>Open access content. Abstract not available.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> 2022-09-09T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Some arguments against the possibility of an infinite past 2022-06-11T08:40:01+00:00 Luca Bellotti <p>In this brief note we discuss some arguments against the purely conceptual possibility of an infinite past, arguing that they are ungrounded and showing how some points of the contemporary debate can be found in some mid-thirteenth-century controversies on the topic.</p> 2023-03-24T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Luca Bellotti The Language versus reality. The case for phenomenology and the Deleuzian `heresy' 2023-09-13T07:09:55+00:00 Stathis Livadas <p><br />This article is an inquiry into the relationship of language, as a henomenon within the world, with the reality of the world as such and the ontological dimensions that underlie a conception of language in these terms. In doing this and in highlighting a kind of interiority of language with regard to reality naively thought, the author undertakes a discussion of the linguistic phenomenon in a broad phenomenological perspective, implying ipso facto a temporality factor, which except for an argumentation along this way deals also with the Deleuzian position on the matter in <em>The Logic of Sense</em>, as contrasted with the `orthodox' or mainstream phenomenological view. A major place in the article has the argumentation about the deficiency of language in epistemological terms, more specifically in the face of certain phenomena associated with quantum mechanical situations.</p> 2024-01-24T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Stathis Livadas Quasi-analysis 2022-03-02T10:18:42+00:00 Rudolf Carnap Caterina Del Sordo Thomas Mormann <p>First English translation of R. Carnap’s “Die Quasizerlegung”.</p> <p>The unpublished manuscript is preserved at the Archives of Scientific Philosophy (ASP), Hillman Library, Carnap papers, University of Pittsburgh (RC-081-04-01).</p> 2022-03-04T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2022 <em>Logical Form: Between Logic and Natural Language</em>, by Andrea Iacona 2022-03-02T10:15:17+00:00 Giuliano Rosella <p>Book review of Andrea Iacona, <em>Logical Form: Between Logic and Natural Language</em>, Springer, 2018, 133 pages</p> 2022-03-04T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2022