Happy Holidays and a Look to the Future

To everyone who has read even one word of our journal, to everyone who has submitted even one word, to everyone who has believed in our vision, to everyone who has provided guidance, to the thankless faces on our staff who have made this journal possible, thank you. Happy Holidays. When we took on the daunting challenge of creating an undergraduate philosophy journal here at Hopkins, we imagined but also sometimes doubted the success that we have had thus far.  Prometheus has been a labor of love, a vision largely realized between the hours of 12 and 5am. Beyond the … Continue reading Happy Holidays and a Look to the Future

Hammond Society Essay Contest: What is a Good Life?

The Hammond Society of graduate philosophy students at Johns Hopkins is sponsoring an essay contest with the following prompt: What is a Good Life? When asked, ‘What do you want from life?’, or ‘What is a good life?’, many respond with the age-old slogan, ‘All that really matters is that you’re happy’. Does this slogan capture all that is relevant to a good life? Imagine that in the future, scientists and engineers develop an ‘experience machine’. People can program into the machine whatever experiences they want to undergo, and hook themselves up to this machine such that once inside, the experiences are … Continue reading Hammond Society Essay Contest: What is a Good Life?

An Argument for the Hedonistic Account of Pain

By JOSHUA M. MITCHELL I. Introduction As we see from Cicero’s account of Epicureanism, its ethical system (i.e. Hedonism) revolves around the entities of pleasure and pain. As in all ethical theories, there is a “greatest good” that is the aim of life . For the hedonist, this is the absence of all pain, and they hold that this is the highest pleasure (and pleasure is equated with good for the Epicurean). There are many reasons the Epicureans give (via Cicero’s testimony) for this, which involve our senses and instinctual responses to good and bad, from our moment of conscious experience … Continue reading An Argument for the Hedonistic Account of Pain

Continuous Properties of Identity

By DOUGLAS JASON KEFFLER Abstract In this essay, I will prove that in order to couple our commonsense notion of identity with the strict philosophical notion of identity there must be a specific interpretation of the philosophical notion of identity.  The interpretation comes from a distinction between two kinds of properties of an individual- changeable and unchangeable.  A changeable property is anything that can be proven to be contingent to an individual.  An unchangeable property is anything that is necessary to an individual.  The latter will prove to be the correct interpretation of a property under the philosophical notion of … Continue reading Continuous Properties of Identity

The Inequality Created by Rawls’ “Justice as Fairness”

By Cuong Q. Nguyen American political philosopher John Rawls developed a concept of justice as fairness in his influential work, A Theory of Justice, to answer the existing question: what is just or right with respect to the allocation of goods in society.  This conception of justice as fairness borrows elements from Kantian philosophy to justify the method of morally evaluating political and social institutions.  Rawls argues that individuals would intrinsically support the proposal of distributive justice for a variety reasons.  Primarily, Rawls suggests that individuals in a given society would agree on the equal distribution of goods if they … Continue reading The Inequality Created by Rawls’ “Justice as Fairness”

God and the Island

By ALEX HATHAWAY Upon purchasing a tin of tobacco from the market, Bertrand Russell began his routine trek back to the campus of Cambridge University. Suddenly, as if struck by Zeus’ bolt, he threw his hands into the air and exclaimed, “Great Scott, the ontological argument is sound!” (Pojman 2). This epiphany-like experience has not been uncommon among philosophers of both the classical and modern eras. Beginning with its original formulation by St. Anselm, the ontological argument for the existence of God has confounded philosophers for over nine centuries, and it continues to be a subject of profound debate. The … Continue reading God and the Island

Anscombe’s First Person

By Erik Hinton
Elizabeth Anscombe’s notorious claim in The First Person, that “I” is not a referential term, has suffered an unfair history of discredit. Although, I will ultimately conclude that Anscombe’s position is untenable when argued to apply for all uses of “I”, to deny the irreferentiality of “I” in many common uses is equally wrong-minded. The assumption which undermines both Anscombe’s argument and criticisms thereof is that “I” must always be either referential or not. While this claim seems to be intuitively true, our clinging to the fixity of “I” is purely a result of a fear that to sacrifice the fixity of “I” would be to sacrifice the fixity of self. Continue reading Anscombe’s First Person