Philosophic Exchange is published by the Center for Philosophic Exchange, at the College at Brockport. The Center for Philosophic Exchange was founded by SUNY Chancellor Samuel Gould in 1969 to conduct a continuing program of philosophical inquiry, relating to both academic and public issues. Each year the Center hosts four speakers, and each speaker gives a public lecture that is intended for a general audience. These lectures are then published in this journal.

The Center for Philosophic Exchange aims to bring the best contemporary philosophy to a wider audience -- one that includes both academic philosophers and the general public. To that end, the papers that are published here do not presuppose any background knowledge in philosophy. However, these papers are also intended for professional philosophers. Our goal is to promote dialogue about philosophical issues both within and without the walls of academia, and thereby promote the intellectual life of our society.

(PRINT) ISSN: 0193-5046

(ONLINE) ISSN: 2372-1405

Recent Submissions

  • Noel Carroll’s Theory of Mass Art

    Novitz, David; University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand (1992-01-01)
    There is much in Noell Carroll’s article, “The Nature of Mass Art,” that is timely and helpful. However, this paper will focus on what is wrong with the theory that Carroll presents in that paper.
  • Mass Art, High Art, and the Avant-Garde: A Response to David Novitz

    Carroll, Noel; University of Wisconsin, Madison (1992-01-01)
    David Novitz proposes several alleged counterexamples to my theory of mass art. This paper responds to these alleged counterexamples.
  • Towards a Critique of Contemporary Aesthetics

    Sircello, Guy (1990-01-01)
    This paper distinguishes two sub-fields of aesthetics: the study of a certain kind of experience, which is “aesthetics” proper, and the philosophy of art. The last fifty years have seen a turn away from aesthetics proper, in favor of the second sub-field, the philosophy of art. This paper argues against that trajectory, and in favor of aesthetics proper.
  • Inventing Philosophy

    Cohen, Ted (1990-01-01)
    It is often suggested that Americans do not have a culture of their own, or a philosophy of their own. However, this charge assumes a European model of culture and philosophy, which Americans need not imitate. By contrast, this paper suggests an alternative, distinctly American model of philosophy. American philosophical practice is a kind of perpetual rebirth, a continuing innocence. It amounts to starting over, always, every time, and taking nothing for granted.
  • Life-Functional Theories of Life

    Feldman, Fred; University of Massachusetts (1992-01-01)
    Many philosophers and biologists have attempted to explain what “alive” means. According to one family of accounts, we can explain the meaning of “alive” in terms of life-functions. This paper discusses this family of views. It is argued that the life-functional analyses of life are unsuccessful.
  • Make-Believe and Its Role in Pictorial Representation and the Acquisition of Knowledge

    Walton, Kendall L.; University of Michigan (1992-01-01)
    Pictures are not merely imitations of visual forms, nor are they merely signs that signify or stand for things of the kind they represent. Pictures, like hobby horses, are props in games of make-believe in which people participate visually, and also psychologically.
  • Polar Terms and Interdependent Concepts

    Singer, Marcus G. (1990-01-01)
    The notion of polarity, of polar terms and concepts, has been extensively used in the history of philosophy. However, there has never been a careful analysis or elucidation of the very concept of polarity itself. This paper aims to provide just such an elucidation of the concept of polarity.
  • Where is the Woman in Feminist Theory? The Case of Aesthetics

    Hein, Hilde (1990-01-01)
    This paper argues that feminism, as a theory, is a pattern of thinking that is not fundamentally about women, although it begins with a gendered perspective. It is, rather, an alternative way of theorizing about a host of topics that include but are not limited to women.
  • The Role of Slippery Slope Arguments in Public Policy Debates

    Mayo, David J. (1990-01-01)
    The goal of this paper is to explore the nature and role of slippery slope arguments in public debates. The thesis of the paper is that slippery slope arguments often function in public policy debate as the natural response of competing ideologies to developments which represent corruption or erosion of their competing visions of the good.
  • The Polarity Fallacy

    Singer, Marcus G. (1990-01-01)
    There are multifarious ways in which two terms can be “polar,” and this sometimes leads to confusion and fallacious reasoning. This paper identifies a fallacy of reasoning that arises from one such confusion.
  • Response to Professor Marshall Cohen

    Hughes, Graham; New York University (1970-01-01)
    At trial, a civil disobedient may appeal to his reasonable belief in the unconstitutionality of the law that he violated. However, he cannot appeal to any technical difficulties that would require him to lie about his performance of the act in question, or about the role of his conscience in motivating his action.
  • Remarks on ‘Philosophy and the Curriculum’

    Wilson, John D.; Wells College (1971-01-01)
    The ‘philosophy-of’ approach advocated by Professor Scheffler would be enormously helpful to the future teacher. Systematic experience with the philosophical literature in his area will do more to bolster the confidence of the teacher than almost anything else that he or she will learn in the liberal arts.
  • A Response to Professor Scheffler’s Paper

    Archambault, Reginald D.; Brown University (1971-01-01)
    I find much of value in Professor Scheffler’s remarks. However, there is a problem facing teacher education that very fundamental, and it requires a more radical solution. The problem is a crisis of faith in our current system of education. This crisis compels the prospective teacher to consider the characterization, definition, and justification of any subject matter whatsoever.
  • Philosophy and the Curriculum

    Scheffler, Israel; Harvard University (1971-01-01)
    There are many ways in which philosophy can contribute to the improvement of education. This paper proposes one particular contribution. Those who are studying to be teachers should be taught some of the philosophy that is related to the discipline that they will teach. There are four ways in which this can contribute to their education. First, it will give an analytical description of the forms of thought employed in their discipline. Second, it will provide some evaluation and criticism of those same forms of thought. Third, it will analyze some specific materials in such a way as to systematize them and illustrate these forms of thought. Fourth, it will provide an interpretation of these forms of thought that is accessible to the novice.
  • Ethical and Epistemic Dilemmas of Behaviorism and the Identity Thesis

    Stack, George J.; The College at Brockport (1971-01-01)
    Jerome Shaffer’s argument against behaviorism and the identity theory assume that the wrongness of causing pain is constituted entirely by that effect. However, the intrinsic wrongness of such actions lies in the intentions of the agent, not in the physical responses of the victim.
  • Comment on Monroe Beardsley’s ‘Inevitability in History’

    Krieger, Leonard; Columbia University (1971-01-01)
    There seem to be inevitabilities both within and without history. Thus, Monroe Beardsley’s analysis of historical inevitability raises this question: what is the relationship between the extra-historical and the historical inevitability? There seems to be an assumption that the concept of inevitability is the same within and without history. I wish to question that assumption. There are distinctively historical forms of inevitability that cannot be assimilated to other kinds of inevitability.
  • On Being in the Mind

    Firth, Roderick; Harvard University (1971-01-01)
    There is exactly one good reason to prefer dualism to the identity theory, and it is is this: whereas brain events occur in a particular spatial location inside the head, it is nonsensical to say that mental events occur in any particular location. Professor Shaffer’s other objections to the identity theory are either parasitic on this one, or else unsuccessful.
  • The Philosophy of Mind and Some Ethical Implications

    Shaffer, Jerome A.; University of Connecticut (1971-01-01)
    Materialism is the view that the only things in existence are material – matter in motion. Materialists hold that mental events are either identical to bodily events, or that mental events are particular kinds of behavior exhibited by particular material objects. These theories face several serious problems, involving spatial location, privileged access, and other phenomena. Moreover, these theories cannot explain why it is wrong to cause pain in another person. It is not obvious why it is wrong to cause another person to exhibit pain behavior, nor is it obviously wrong to cause physical events to occur in another person’s brain. These ethical implications of behaviorism and the identity theory constitute serious disadvantages for those theories. Consequently, what we have here is an argument for dualism.
  • Determinism and Inevitability

    Danto, Arthur C.; Columbia University (1971-01-01)
    Monroe Beardsley’s analysis of historical inevitability is simply an analysis of determinism. Thus, he has not specified what, in excess of determinism, is implied by assertions of historical inevitability.
  • Foot-Notes

    Gilbert, Joseph; The College at Brockport (1971-01-01)
    The major disagreement here is that Foot, contra Kant, denies that moral ends are ends that the agent has a duty to adopt. Though I, in part, agree with Foot, it is difficult to see what is paradoxical about the view that she denies. Foot’s position is the one that appears paradoxical. Her position is that I may have duties within morality, but I cannot have a duty to adopt the ends of morality. On the contrary, morality is inescapable.

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