•  21
    Quine on Ethics: The Gavagai of Moral Discourse
    Cambridge Scholars Publishing. 2021.
    Quine on Ethics: The Gavagai of Moral Discourse is the first comprehensive treatment of Quine’s brief yet memorable foray into ethics. It defends him against his most formidable critics, corrects misconceptions in the reception of his outlook on morality as a social institution and ethics as a philosophical enterprise, and restores emphasis on observationality as the impetus behind his momentous intervention in ethical theory. The central focus is on Quine’s infamous challenge to ethical theory:…Read more
  •  13
    One over Many: The Unitary Pluralism of Plato's World
    State University of New York Press. forthcoming.
    One over Many: The Unitary Pluralism of Plato's World is a tightly integrated collection of essays by the author, some newly drafted for the present work, some previously published as journal articles, all conceived and developed in pursuit of corrective intervention in Plato’s metaphysics. The book replaces the standard view of Plato as a metaphysical dualist with a novel interpretation providing greater explanatory power through the paradigm of unitary pluralism in a single reality built on on…Read more
  •  123
    This is a defense of Rawls against recent criticism, ironically my own, though it is also a critique insofar as it addresses a problem that Rawls never does. As a defense, it is not a retraction of the original charges. As a critique, it is not more of the same op-position. In either capacity, it is not an afterthought. The charges were conceived from the outset with a specific solution in mind, which would have been too distracting to pursue in the same article. This is that solution. It also h…Read more
  •  185
    Hobbes postulates a social contract to formalize our collective transition from the state of nature to civil society. The prisoner’s dilemma challenges both the mechanics and the outcome of that thought experiment. The incentives for reneging are supposedly strong enough to keep rational persons from cooperating. This paper argues that the prisoner’s dilemma undermines a position Hobbes does not hold. The context and parameters of the social contract steer it safely between the horns of the dile…Read more
  •  269
    Angelique: An Angel in Distress, Morality in Crisis
    Dialogue and Universalism 28 (2). 2018.
    Michael H. Mitias argues that friendship is a central moral value constituting an integral part of the good life and therefore deserving a prominent place in ethical theory. He consequently calls upon ethicists to make immediate and decisive adjustments toward accommodating what he regards as a neglected organic relationship between friendship and morality. This is not a fanciful amendment to our standard conception of morality but a radical proposal grounded in a unifying vision to recapture th…Read more
  •  117
    John Rawls is famous for two things: his attempt to ground morality in rationality and his conception of justice as fairness. He has developed and polished both in conjunction over the course of half a century. Yet the moral principles he advocates have always been more doctrinaire than the corresponding justification model should have ever allowed with design details explicitly promising objectivity. This article goes to the beginning, or to a reasonable proxy for it, in the “Outline of a Decis…Read more
  •  865
    This is a defense of Kant against the allegedly neglected alternative in his formulation of transcendental idealism. What sets it apart from the contributions of others who have spoken for Kant in this regard is the construction of a general interpretive framework — a reconstruction of the one Kant provides for transcendental idealism — as opposed to the development of an ad hoc defensive strategy for refuting the charges. Hence, comprehensive clarification instead of pointed rebuttal. The diffe…Read more
  •  84
    This is a defense of John Stuart Mill’s proof of the principle of utility in the fourth chapter of his Utilitarianism. The proof is notorious as a fallacious attempt by a prominent philosopher, who ought not to have made the elementary mistakes he is supposed to have made. This book shows that he did not. The aim is not to glorify utilitarianism, in a full sweep, as the best normative ethical theory, or even to vindicate, on a more specific level, Mill’s universalistic ethical hedonism as the be…Read more
  •  79
    A Defense of John Stuart Mill's Proof of the Principle of Utility
    Dissertation, Washington University in St. Louis. 1994.
    In my dissertation, I analyze, interpret, and defend John Stuart Mill's proof of the principle of utility in the fourth chapter of his Utilitarianism. My purpose is not to glorify utilitarianism, in a full sweep, as the best normative ethical theory, or even to vindicate, on a more specific level, Mill's universalistic ethical hedonism as the best form of utilitarianism. I am concerned only with Mill's utilitarianism, and primarily with his proof of the principle of utility. My overarching purpo…Read more
  •  34
    This book is a quest for the real Plato, forever hiding behind the veil of drama. The quest, as the subtitle indicates, is Cartesian in that it looks for Plato independently of the prevailing paradigms on where we are supposed to find him. The result of the quest is a complete pedagogical platform on Plato. This does not mean that the book leaves nothing out, covering all the dialogues and all the themes, but that it provides the full intellectual apparatus for doing just that. It consists of tw…Read more
  •  390
    Who Mourns for Adonais? Or, Where Have All the Gods Gone?
    Analysis and Metaphysics 17. 2018.
    Belief in God is a steady epistemic state sustaining an ancient social institution. Not only is it still with us, it is still the same as it ever was. It rests on the same inspiration it did thousands of years ago, commanding the same attention with the same motivation. Deities come and go but the belief stays the same. That is the thesis of this paper. It is more specifically a study of classical Greek polytheism as a paradigm for our longstanding relationship with religious social structures. …Read more
  •  1280
    Plato seems to countenance both positive and negative Forms, that is to say, both good and bad ones. He may not say so outright, but he invokes both and rejects neither. The apparent finality of this impression creates a lack of direct interest in the subject: Plato scholars do not give negative Forms much thought except as the prospect relates to something else they happen to be doing. Yet when they do give the matter any thought, typically for the sake of a prior concern, they try either to su…Read more
  •  228
    This is a defense of Pyrrhonian skepticism against the charge that the suspension of judgment based on equipollence is vitiated by the assent given to the equipollence in question. The apparent conflict has a conceptual side as well as a practical side, examined here as separate challenges with a section devoted to each. The conceptual challenge is that the skeptical transition from an equipollence of arguments to a suspension of judgment is undermined either by a logical contradiction or by an …Read more
  •  214
    Rethought Forms: How Do They Work?
    Arctos: Acta Philologica Fennica 48. 2014.
    This paper is a critical evaluation of Holger Thesleff’s thinking on Plato’s Forms, especially of his “rethinking” of the matter, as he puts it in the title of his most recent contribution. It lays out a broadly sympathetic perspective through dialectical engagement with the main lines of his interpretation and reconstruction of Plato’s world. The aim is to launch the formal academic reception of that reconstruction (rethinking), which Thesleff cautiously and modestly presents as a “proposal” — …Read more
  •  644
    This is a study of the correspondence between Forms and particulars in Plato. The aim is to determine whether they exhibit an ontological symmetry, in other words, whether there is always one where there is the other. This points to two questions, one on the existence of things that do not have corresponding Forms, the other on the existence of Forms that do not have corresponding things. Both questions have come up before. But the answers have not been sufficiently sensitive to the intricacies …Read more
  •  3647
    Rethinking Plato’s Forms
    with Holger Thesleff
    Arctos: Acta Philologica Fennica 47. 2013.
    This is a proposal for rethinking the main lines of Plato’s philosophy, including some of the conceptual tools he uses for building and maintaining it. Drawing on a new interpretive paradigm for Plato’s overall vision, the central focus is on the so-called Forms. Regarding the guiding paradigm, we propose replacing the dualism of a world of Forms separated from a world of particulars, with the monistic model of a hierarchically structured universe comprising interdependent levels of reality. Reg…Read more
  •  1165
    A Horse is a Horse, of Course, of Course, but What about Horseness?
    In Debra Nails & Harold Tarrant (eds.), Second Sailing: Alternative Perspectives on Plato, Societas Scientiarum Fennica. 2015.
    Plato is commonly considered a metaphysical dualist conceiving of a world of Forms separate from the world of particulars in which we live. This paper explores the motivation for postulating that second world as opposed to making do with the one we have. The main objective is to demonstrate that and how everything, Forms and all, can instead fit into the same world. The approach is exploratory, as there can be no proof in the standard sense. The debate between explaining Plato’s ontology with a …Read more