Ergo is an open access philosophy journal accepting submissions on all philosophical topics and from all philosophical traditions. This includes, among other things: history of philosophy, work in both the analytic and continental traditions, as well as formal and empirically informed philosophy. Ergo is strongly committed to diversity and especially welcomes submissions from members of groups currently underrepresented in philosophy.

Submission and publication are free, and authors retain copyright under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 license. Generous support from the undergraduate departments of philosophy at the University of Toronto’s St. George and Mississauga campuses and the University of Toronto’s graduate department of philosophy make this arrangement possible.

Papers are published as they are accepted; there is no regular publication schedule.

  1. Epistemic Exploitation

    Nora Berenstain

  2. Cabbage à la Descartes

    Devin Sanchez Curry


Sunday’s Sermon

One of our regular authors presents: “Comedy in the Age of the Absurd: Helping or Harming?”


It’s an absurd new[s] era, and when faced with the question of “should we laugh or should we cry?” the choice is being made for us. Comedy news outlets (our ever-increasing primary news source) are having a heyday; observing and reporting with an almost glee. They couldn’t make this shit up.

And us? We’re devouring it.

The one to rule them all.

It feels good to laugh. That’s probably why humour is the preferred coping mechanism for dealing with the reality that is Trump. But might getting our news in this way have its downside? If comedy is our news and their business, who’s gonna tell us it’s no laughing matter?

There is certainly an argument for humour as being an effective weapon here,  as it’s clear that Trump can’t tolerate any form of criticism – and what’s more harmful to a man like this than the public buying the notion that he is a Joke on the world stage. He spends an inordinate amount of time reacting to haters with childlike petulance that he fails to see just adds to the comedy.  Perhaps shows like SNL, John Oliver, Stephen  Colbert and the like aren’t just capitalizing on the circumstance, but are here at exactly the right time and doing their duty as commanders of the Army of Comedy that will ultimate cause him to implode. It could. Or it could do the exact opposite.

Because here’s what needs to be taken seriously:

That Donald Trump, Actual President of the United States, is mentally ill. Saying so is not meant to be insulting or inflammatory. It’s to state what is plainly obvious but is being obscured by the sweet panacea of comedy. He displays all the criteria of someone with a serious psychological and/or medical condition that makes him – unfortunately, comically – unfit to be any kind of leader.  A pathological liar; and not on disputable matters, but on facts of which there are images and recordings (of himself too).  And not just occasionally, but constantly. And not after some thought, but reflexively. And not over insignificant things, but facts that matter. A level of emotional control and articulacy that is rarely observed in any mature, stable person, let alone . . .  you get the picture. This is only what shows. Can you imagine?

(And then there’s this, which I consider to be the crown jewel on top of the trash pile of evidence for incompetency which at the same time is a mint example of this laugh/cry coin. For this to even BE, let alone get a pass as the very first broadcast of the official news outlet of the Trump Administration, boggles my mind and reduces me to tears of laughter despite myself. Just watch.)

We can certainly count his overall anti-environment, anti-education, anti-social security (anti-humanity, really) attitude as evidence that he is incapable of considering the welfare anyone outside of him and his. But I’m not so sure if that’s mental illness so much as the natural result of being born and raised in a bubble of extreme self-indulgence that this late in the game is psychologically incapable of being popped. Or is that mental illness too? Is greed evil or illness? And does mental illness imply that his behaviours are more excusable than, say, evil?

Now I’ve realized I’ve gone off track and opened up a can of worms about what mental illness is, and how or if it’s distinct from evil. You all better join in on discussion now.

Personally, I think there are not evil people so much as those with a lack of knowledge of good; and this moral confusion + power + fear of being irrelevant = the path of least resistance, which to a weak mind with strong negative influences can certainly cause evil, easily justified as something other than.

Anyways, my point is that if Trump’s behaviour can be explained by at least Narcissistic Personality Disorder (and possibly untreated syphilis, possible dementia), then he either needs treatment or to be treated like a person with special needs who doesn’t know his own strength.

And we need to stop laughing.

…or do we?

Philosophy, Religion, and the Meaning of Nationhood in the 21st century

English: Devonian Pond,Ryerson University, Tor...
English: Devonian Pond,Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The CJMA welcomes proposals from individuals who are interested in presenting a paper at its 2017 spring conference.

Saturday, May 27 to Sunday May 28, 2017
Ryerson University,
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

In the 21st century, diverse tendencies appear to be altering or even undermining nationhood, understood as belonging to a sovereign people with a shared heritage. Philosophers have discussed individualism, multiculturalism, and globalization – in Canada we have the recent contribution of substantial thinkers like Charles Taylor, John Ralston Saul, George Grant, and Leslie Armour. In addition, the role of religion is emerging as a prominent factor determining nationhood: from political and patriotic Christian Evangelism in the United States, Canada, and Latin America to the traditional theocratic tendencies in the Middle East, and the role of Hinduism and Confucianism in promoting national identities is significant. Furthermore, any discussion of nationhood in the 21st century must take into account concerns associated with the role of Islam in European and American societies, and the contribution of Native American religion to our appreciation of the natural environment and cohesive community.

All papers addressing the role of philosophy and/or religion in determining the meaning of nationhood in the 21st century are welcome.

Those who wish to present a paper should send a one-page abstract or proposal to:

Dr. Elizabeth Trott

Deadline for submission of proposals: February 15, 2017

Exercise your brain!

Several Thought Experiments



William James’ squirrel:


SOME YEARS AGO, being with a camping party in the mountains, I returned from a solitary ramble to find every one engaged in a ferocious metaphysical dispute. The corpus of the dispute was a squirrel – a live squirrel supposed to be clinging to one side of a tree-trunk; while over against the tree’s opposite side a human being was imagined to stand. This human witness tries to get sight of the squirrel by moving rapidly round the tree, but no matter how fast he goes, the squirrel moves as fast in the opposite direction, and always keeps the tree between himself and the man, so that never a glimpse of him is caught. The resultant metaphysical problem now is this: Does the man go round the squirrel or not? He goes round the tree, sure enough, and the squirrel is on the tree; but does he go round the squirrel? [Stop for discussion] In the unlimited leisure of the wilderness, discussion had been worn threadbare. Every one had taken sides, and was obstinate; and the numbers on both sides were even. Each side, when I appeared therefore appealed to me to make it a majority. Mindful of the scholastic adage that whenever you meet a contradiction you must make a distinction, I immediately sought and found one, as follows: “Which party is right,” I said, “depends on what you practically mean by ‘going round’ the squirrel. If you mean passing from the north of him to the east, then to the south, then to the west, and then to the north of him again, obviously the man does go round him, for he occupies these successive positions. But if on the contrary you mean being first in front of him, then on the right of him, then behind him, then on his left, and finally in front again, it is quite as obvious that the man fails to go round him, for by the compensating movements the squirrel makes, he keeps his belly turned towards the man all the time, and his back turned away. Make the distinction, and there is no occasion for any farther dispute. You are both right and both wrong according as you conceive the verb ‘to go round’ in one practical fashion or the other.”

“What is pragmatism?” 1904 lecture [1]

  Continue reading

On turning 81.

When I Come to Be Old

Not to marry a young Woman.
Not to keep young Company unless they reely desire it.
Not to be peevish or morose, or suspicious.
Not to scorn present Ways, or Wits, or Fashions, or Men, or
War, &c.
Not to be fond of Children, or let them come near me hardly.
Not to tell the same story over and over to the same People.
Not to be covetous.

Not to neglect decency, or cleenlyness, for fear of falling
into Nastyness.
Not to be over severe with young People, but give Allowances for
their youthfull follyes and weaknesses.
Not to be influenced by, or give ear to knavish tatling servants,
or others.
Not to be too free of advise, nor trouble any but those that
desire it.
To desire some good Friends to inform me wch of these
Resolutions I break, or neglect, and wherein; and reform
Not to talk much, nor of my self.
Not to boast of my former beauty, or strength, or favor with
Ladyes, &c.
Not to hearken to Flatteryes, nor conceive I can be beloved
by a young woman, et eos qui hereditatem captant, odisse
ac vitare.
Not to be positive or opiniative.
Not to sett up for observing all these Rules; for fear I should
    observe none.