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

  • 2023-2024 Joshi. Socially Motivated Belief and Its Epistemic Discontents

    Joshi, Hrishikesh (SUNY Brockport, Philosophic Exchange, 2024)
    What might an ideal epistemic agent look like? The picture given to us by philosophers over time suggests something like an autonomous thinker who appropriately responds to her evidence wherever it may point. She would believe those things for which there are the best (epistemic) reasons and wouldn’t simply believe on the basis of what is comfortable or what is popular. Thus, Descartes sought to rebuild his belief system from the foundations of only those beliefs of which he could be rationally certain. Socrates challenged the widely held philosophical and theological assumptions of his time, for which he was put to death. Mill enjoins us to follow the argument wherever it leads, even if it goes against commonly held opinion.
  • An Idle and Most False Imposition: Truth-Seeking vs. Status-Seeking and the Failure of Epistemic Vigilance*

    Shieber, Joseph (Center for Philosophic Exchange, 2023-07)
    In the past few decades, a number of researchers from evolutionary psychology, developmental psychology, and cognitive science have promoted a theory suggesting that humans are naturally cautious about the information they receive. This theory, known as “epistemic vigilance,” involves the idea that we pay attention to clues that our conversation partners might be trying to deceive us and adjust our beliefs accordingly. However, despite the increasing popularity of the theory of epistemic vigilance, there is good reason to think that it cannot be true. This is because social psychology research going back over fifty years suggests that we are in fact not very good at detecting deception, honesty or competence in others. How can we make sense of the conflicting findings from these different areas of research? I suggest that the solution lies in what I term “Nietzsche’s Thesis,” which suggests that we are actually more focused on our conversation partners’ social status than their truthfulness.
  • Steering Clear of Trouble

    Schenkler, John (Center for Philosophic Exchange,, 2022)
    Often we make decisions whose purpose is to reduce the likelihood of our making bad decisions in the future—for example, by turning off my phone to make it more difficult for me to go on Tik Tok during the work day, or staying at home on a Friday instead of going to a party where I know my friends will be drinking to excess. These decisions seem essential, but they raise some philosophical questions. Here is one of them: What is the view that a person takes of her own future when she goes in for this kind of planning? And here is another: How does seeing ourselves as subject to temptation, in the way that this kind of planning presumes, not serve as an invitation to irresolution when tempting situations arise? In this essay, I show how the answers to these questions are mutually illuminating.
  • Why Tolerate Religion? A (Surprising) Nietzschean Answer

    Dudrick, David (Center for Philosophic Exchange,, 2022)
    In Why Tolerate Religion? Brian Leiter takes himself to show that the deference traditionally shown by the state to religion is irrational; there is no reason to think that specifically religious conscience is special “from a moral point of view.” In this paper, I argue that a challenge to Leiter’s view arises from an unlikely source: the work of Friedrich Nietzsche, to which Leiter himself serves as an able guide. Leiter approvingly interprets Nietzsche to hold that a certain form of egalitarianism, according to which all human beings are of equal basic worth, is grounded if and only if something like Christian theism is true: the equal worth of human beings does not outlive the death of God. Leiter thus unearths what he had denied existed: a reason for the state’s deferential stance toward religion. In the remainder of this paper, I examine Nietzsche’s (and Leiter’s) claims that such egalitarianism cannot be grounded in secular terms and that it can be grounded in theism, and I conclude that these claims are correct.
  • Racism and the Discourse of Phobias: Negrophobia, Xenophobia and More---Dialogue with Kim and Sundstrom

    Garcia, J. L .A. (2020)
    The article discusses racism as a topic for conceptual analysis, touching on other phobias as well.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

View more