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ESJP Edition 20

The result of all the hard work of editors and authors alike over the last semester has finally culminated in the 20th Edition. Click on the blog post to get access to the pdf!

Read the abstracts for the articles included in this edition:

Controlling political dynasties in the Philippines: A breach or a promotion of freedom?

by Erica Yu

The Tudors, the Borgia, the Kennedys, the Bushs. Dynasties, whether regal or political, are a concept most of us are vaguely familiar with as families who hold a lot of power, but in the following paper the author takes a critical approach to them. Using the Philippines as an example, the author points out how power centered in families contributes to systemic inequalities, which benefit members of the dynastic family and are to the detriment of the body of citizens under the political system that family is active in. The author does this by introducing two different notions of freedom, liberal and republican, and explaining the implications of arbitrary power and dominion. These concepts aid the author in refuting three arguments for allowing political dynasties: Firstly, barring members of political dynastic families from political positions increases, not diminishes, freedom. Secondly, political dynastic families should never be permitted, despite possible positive outcomes, because this creates arbitrary power. Thirdly, mechanisms that diminish a political dynastic family’s negative impact are insufficient. The conclusion is that a law banning members from such dynasties to be politically active is justified. The paper ends with a note on implications for policy implementation.

Nietzsches rijm voor een Vrolijke Wetenschap

by Kas Molenaar In the paper Nietzsches rijm voor een Vrolijke Wetenschap Kas Molenaar explores a side of Friedrich Nietzsche’s De Vrolijke Wetenschap that is not discussed very often; namely Nietzsche’s talents as a poet, and the significance of his use of rhymes for understanding his philosophy.

Nietzsche, one of the most influential philosophers of our time, appears in a new light. Once we get to know him as De Huisvriend, a term which was first introduced by Martin Heidegger and Johann Peter Hebel. At other times, the nursery rhyme -like character of Nieztsche’s rhyme, turns him into a gebedsvader. These two different ways of reading Nietzsche’s rhymes serve different functions. De Huisvriend teaches us something new, the gebedsvader helps us to internalize what we have learned.

Kas finishes his work by exploring four themes presented in Niezesche’s work, De Vrolijke Wetenschap and giving the reader the space to interpret the rhymes in terms of the two earlier introduced concepts. Overall, it’s an amazingly creative take on a philosophical classic with a poetic writing style to fit the theme.

The paper is valuable for both first-time readers of Nietzsche, as well as those who are already familiar with him, in order to learn yet ssomething new about this philosophical giant.

Experimenting with name meaning

by Erik Huijsman

Experimenting with name meaning opens by recounting how philosophy over the last hundred years has lost significant parts of its field of inquiry to scientific enterprises. According to Erik Huijsman, there is one branch of philosophy that seems to have escaped the encroachment of science: semantics. Nevertheless, even the questions and problems of this branch are - more and more - being addressed by means of empirical methodology. It is experimental philosophy and especially the work of Machery, Mallon, Nichols, and Stich (MMNS) that have launched and furthered this endeavor. In the paper, Huijsman aims to analyze and determine the value of experimental philosophy by examining the ramifications of MMNS’ experiments for semantics and, in particular, Kripke’s descriptivism. He does so by considering the critical concerns of Deutsch and Devitt about the inferences that MMNS draw from their results. According to Huijsman, the arguments that Deutsch and Devitt give to support their critique are fundamentally misguided. He argues that the results concerning folk intuitions of MMNS’ experiments are crucial in assessing semantic theories since semantic phenomena are ontologically subjective. If semanticists espouse theories that are inconsistent with or cannot explain the folk intuitions determined by MMNS, then these theories - which include the causal-historical view and weak descriptivism of reference - are to be considered defective.

‘One day I shall be Queen?’ Thinking about Rational Choices in the face of Epistemic Transformations

by Chiara Stenico

Some decisions in life are hard to make. Which career to pursue, what to study, whether to have children.

Depending on the path you choose the way you see the world and what you value in it might change fundamentally. According to L.A. Paul, these kinds of ‘transformative decisions’ challenge rational choice theory, a framework aiming to guide your decision-making. One side of this challenge is an epistemic one.

Before experiencing it, you cannot know what it would be like being a parent, working in the banking sector or studying philosophy. Such profound uncertainty about the consequences of your choice precludes rational choice theory from providing valuable decision guidance, argues Paul. And still, you must choose which path to pursue. In her essay “‘One day I shall be Queen?’ Thinking about Rational Choices in the face of Epistemic Transformations”, Chiara Stenico engages with Jennifer Carr`s reply to this epistemic challenge.

Using so-called conceptual resources, Carr models the epistemic transformation you undergo when making transformative choices. Conceptual resources, a form of cognitive abilities, allow you to form beliefs about different aspects of the world. Faced with a transformative choice, you lack conceptual resources available to you after you chose. Modelling this conceptual change, so Carr, solves the epistemic challenge such decisions pose for rational choice theory. Stenico disagrees. She argues that Carr`s conceptual resources are not apt for this task. Instead, she proposes a qualified version of conceptual resources, allowing you to form more beliefs about more consequences of your transformative choice. Thereby, qualified conceptual resources, so Stenico argues, help to overcome the epistemic challenge. And while choosing between different careers, what to study or whether to have children might be difficult decisions to make, choosing to dive into Chiara Stenico`s argument is certainly one the reader will not regret.

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