Special Issue topics for forthcoming issues of The Monist

Sep 28, 2008 Jan 01, 2010

The following are among the special issue topics for forthcoming issues of The Monist. For further details


The Meaning of Life
Deadline: January 2009
Advisory Editor: Quentin Smith, Western Michigan University

The vagueness and ambiguity of the question ‘Is there a meaning of human life?’ is standardly resolved by reformulations using more precise categories from the philosophy of religion or from moral realism. But are there alternatives to such reformulations? Consider:
(1) Biology: the meaning of human life is to survive and reproduce; because we no longer have to struggle to survive and reproduce, we are no longer in a position to experience this meaning.
(2) Physics: Hawking has argued that the meaning is in principle expressible in terms of a ‘complete unified theory’, which will throw light inter alia on‘the question of why it is that we and the universe exist.’
(3) Psychology: People talk of sensing ‘emptiness’ in depression and ‘fullness’ in joy. Can these metaphors be justified as referring to modes of epistemic access to some mind-independent meaning of human life that is neither religious nor ethical in nature?
(4) Art: Some hold that there are artistic symbols which somehow express the meaning of human life but in a way that is not expressible in linguistic form. Can such a linguistic ineffability theory be philosophically defended?

Are there other approaches to defending a theory of the meaning of human life? Is it possible to articulate a formal structure or account of meaning which all such theories must share?
Articles are invited addressing these and related questions in an analytical spirit.


Morality and Climate Change
Deadline: July 31, 2010
Advisory Editors: Simon Caney, Oxford University, and Derek Bell, University of Newcastle

The prospect of human induced climate change raises many ethical issues. What criteria should we use to assess the impacts of climate change? Can cost benefit analysis capture all the ethically significant impacts? Do current generations have an obligation to future generations not to bring about long-term dangerous climate change? Is discounting the well-being of future generations obligatory or permissible or indefensible? Some potential impacts of climate change are not known with certainty and this raises the question of how we should respond to risky or uncertain impacts on the earth's climate. For example, should current generations adopt a version of the 'precautionary principle' when considering whether to engage in activities which produce high levels of greenhouse gases? Who should bear the burdens of dealing with global climate change? How should the right to engage in activities which emit carbon dioxide be distributed? Is carbon trading just and, if so, under what conditions? Are some entitled to compensation or reparations for the harmful effects of anthropogenic climate change? In addition to the above, we face ethical question pertaining to how decisions about climate policy should be taken. Papers are invited on any of the above themes.


Cosmopolitanism: For and Against
Deadline: October 2010
Advisory Editor: Gillian Brock, The University of Auckland

According to cosmopolitanism, every person has global stature as the ultimate unit of moral concern and is therefore entitled to equal respect and consideration no matter what her citizenship status or other affiliations happen to be. This issue of The Monist is intended as a forum for debates about the pros and cons of cosmopolitanism. It will address questions such as: What does cosmopolitanism require by way of obligations of justice to all? What kinds of reforms to our global and local institutions do cosmopolitan concerns require? Are these requirements feasible? In addition to our obligations to everyone, do we have further, more demanding, obligations to compatriots or to family members? Do non-cosmopolitan theories provide a better account of our obligations and allow us a more useful framework for mediating the interests of compatriots and non-compatriots?


Dilemmas of Multiculturalism
Deadline for submissions: January 31, 2011
Advisory Editor: H. E. Baber, University of San Diego,

History shows that cultural diversity can enrich societies and lead to great flowerings of creativity and prosperity – but that it can also threaten social cohesion. The present issue of the Monist is concerned with the dilemmas that arise when, for example, the cultural norms of minority communities conflict with the norms of the larger society. To what extent are liberal democracies obliged to accommodate illiberal communities whose policies and practices constrain the options of their members? Is multiculturalism bad for women insofar as traditional cultures promote practices and prescribe roles for women that are, by Western standards, restrictive or oppressive? Is multiculturalism good for minority communities? Is there, for example, a conflict of interest between cultural preservationists and those individuals who would prefer to assimilate into the wider culture? Do individuals in minority communities have an obligation to identify with ancestral cultures? Are cultural and communal attachments constraints external to the self or are they self-defining, and so vital for well-being? Cultures have always evolved, both from within and through contact with other cultures. Traditional societies in particular are experiencing radical change as they are drawn into the emerging global economy. Are efforts to maintain traditional languages, practices and traditions of necessity in the interest of members of these societies? Do such efforts preserve a culture or thwart its natural development? Contributors are invited to address these and related questions posed by multiculturalism.


Experimental Philosophy
Deadline: April 2011
Advisory Editor: James Beebe, University at Buffalo

In recent years an increasing number of philosophers have been utilizing the experimental methods of the cognitive sciences to test key empirical claims advanced in various areas of philosophical dispute. Much of the time these experiments have taken the form of philosophical thought experiments presented to ordinary subjects which test whether the responses elicited match philosophers' claims. A number of surprising findings have been made by experimental philosophers that seem to bear directly on debates in action theory, epistemology, ethics, folk psychology, metaphysics and philosophy of language. But the philosophical significance of these findings continues to be the subject of debate. Contributions are invited that present results of applying experimental methods to philosophical hypotheses or address the significance of these results and the methodological challenges posed by experimental philosophy.

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