St. Hilda's College, University of Toronto

St. Hilda’s College, University of Toronto (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ergo is a general, 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.

Current Issue(s)

In Defence of Historical Constructivism about Races

E. Diaz-Leon

Social constructivism about races holds that races are socially real, that is, they are identical with socially constructed properties, or social kinds. One particular version of social constructivism, namely, historical constructivism, claims that the properties that make a group of people a race are certain historical properties of the individuals that belong to that group (e.g., the life histories of the members of the group, or their ancestors). Joshua Glasgow has recently argued, following Appiah, Gooding-Williams and others, that historical constructivism faces several problems. In particular, he argues, it faces a trilemma: either the characterization of races provided is circular, or, if it wants to avoid circularity, it will turn out to be either redundant or indeterminate. In this paper, my main aim is to explore this interesting challenge to historical constructivism about races, and argue that it can escape Glasgow’s trilemma. I will focus on historical constructivism about races, but I hope my discussion will shed some light on the question of whether social constructivist accounts in general are tenable.

Partial Model Theory as Model Theory

Sebastian Lutz

I show that the partial truth of a sentence in a partial structure is equivalent to the truth of that sentence in an expansion of a structure that corresponds naturally to the partial structure. Further, a mapping is a partial homomorphism/partial isomorphism between two partial structures if and only if it is a homomorphism/isomorphism between their corresponding structures. It is a corollary that the partial truth of a sentence in a partial structure is equivalent to the truth of a specific Ramsey sentence in a corresponding structure. Hence the partial structures approach can be expressed in standard first or second-order model theory, and it can be captured in the received view on scientific theories as developed by Carnap and Hempel.

Constructing Contexts

Brett Sherman

It is commonly held that the context with respect to which an indexical is interpreted is determined independently of the interpretation of the indexical. This view, which I call Context Realism, has explanatory significance: it is because the context is what it is that an indexical refers to what it does. In this paper, I provide an argument against Context Realism. I then develop an alternative that I call Context Constructivism, according to which indexicals are defined not in terms of features of utterance situations, but rather in terms of roles that objects could play.

Naïve Realism and Illusion

Boyd Millar

It is well-known that naïve realism has difficulty accommodating perceptual error. Recent discussion of the issue has focused on whether the naïve realist can accommodate hallucination by adopting disjunctivism. However, illusions are more difficult for the naïve realist to explain precisely because the disjunctivist solution is not available. I discuss what I take to be the two most plausible accounts of illusion available to the naïve realist. The first claims that illusions are cases in which you are prevented from perceiving properties you would ordinarily perceive and subsequently form a mistaken judgment about the perceived object. The second appeals to an unusual look or appearance that the perceived object instantiates. I argue that neither account is satisfactory and that, consequently, naïve realism ought to be rejected.

Basic Problems of Haugeland’s Phenomenology

R. Matthew Shockey

John Haugeland aimed throughout his career to determine what it is for an entity to count as having intelligence or thought, and at each stage he developed the idea from the phenomenological tradition that genuine thought requires intentionality. His most mature essay to do this, “Authentic Intentionality,” shows how the intentional directedness of thought requires that thinkers understand themselves as responsive to entities they think about, that they be committed to maintaining the socially shared forms of understanding of those entities, and yet that they be self-critically open to the possibility of needing to revise or reject those forms of understanding. In this essay I argue that, while Haugeland’s account of intentionality sheds much light on empirical thought (thought directed at different kinds of things in the world), it doesn’t address what it takes for thought to intend or think its own form—and so it fails to describe the kind of transcendental thought of which the account itself is an instance. Building on Haugeland’s own rich picture of self-understanding, I show how we can remedy this omission, and that when we do, we see that transcendental thought is performed by each of us as concrete individuals and yet takes place from a perspective outside of, and thus free from, the normative demands and existential situations of our empirical lives. It is thus of at most therapeutic use in them, even as it is valuable for its own sake as an exercise of our finite freedom.


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