Calendar of Events


 (Please scroll below calendar for more detailed information on particular events.)



Brendan Balcerak Jackson
University of Miami

 “Essentially Practical Questions”
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Memorial Building, Room 102
7:00 pm—9:00pm

Abstract: Disagreements about matters of taste and aesthetics have a peculiar character. For example, suppose you say that Goya’s Saturn is a beautiful painting, while I say that it isn’t. Intuitively, we have a genuine disagreement about the Goya painting; we are not merely talking past each other. But it would be odd to say that one or the other of us must be making a mistake; our tastes simply differ. Some philosophers have argued that the peculiar character of disagreements like this must be understood in deeply relativistic terms, according to which there is no objective truth about value and beauty, only truth-for-you and truth-for-me. My aim in this paper is to show that this relativist conclusion is too quick. In my view, a genuine disagreement is always focused on some specific question or questions, and the peculiar character of disagreements about matters of taste and aesthetics is a reflection of special features of the questions on which they are focused. In particular, I argue that we should understand such disagreements as being fundamentally about what I call “essentially practical questions,” questions about what to do. Disagreements about what to do are no less genuine, and no less important, than disagreements about matters of fact. But they can remain unsettled even after we have agreed on all the relevant matters of fact. 

Bio: Brendan Balcerak Jackson received his Ph.D. from Cornell University in 2006. Prior to joining the philosophy department at the University of Miami in 2015, Brendan held positions at the University of California (Davis), the Australian National University, the University of Cologne, and the University of Konstanz. His main areas of research are the philosophy of language, epistemology and metaphysics, and he also has interests in the philosophy of mind, the history of analytic philosophy, and logic. He has a strong background in linguistics, and much of his work is informed by research in generative syntax, semantics, and pragmatics.

Jessica Wilson
University of Toronto

“How Metaphysical Dependence Works”
Friday, March 31, 2017
Knight Physics Bldg., Room 334                                                                              
2:00-4:00 p.m.

Abstract: I develop and defend my positive account of metaphysical dependence, according to which what metaphysically depends on what (and relatedly but not equivalently, what is posterior to what) is, in the first instance, a matter of (i) what is (or serves as) a primitive fundamental base, coupled with (ii) the holding of specific off-the-shelf metaphysical relations (e.g., mereological part-whole, or the determinable-determinate relation). I highlight various advantages of my approach over `Grounding'-based approaches, and respond to several objections that have been raised against my view.

Bio: Jessica Wilson is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto. She has interests in metaphysics (especially metaphysics of science and mind), metaphysical methodology, and epistemology, and has published widely on these topics. Wilson is the President of the Society for the Metaphysics of Science; she recently held a 3-year term as Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Edinburgh, and was the 2014 recipient (along with Jonathan Schaffer) of the Lebowitz Award for philosophical achievement and contribution. 

Nancy Snow
University of Oklahoma


“The Perils of Magnificence”
Friday, March 24, 2017
Knight Physics Bldg, Room 334                                                                              
2:00-4:00 p.m.


Abstract: In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle claims that magnificence is the virtue of making large expenditures for the public good.  As such, it stands between the vices of niggardliness and vulgarity.  It is also related to generosity, for the magnificent person, Aristotle says, is generous, though not necessarily vice versa, presumably because not all generous people have the means to spend on a grand scale (Aristotle 1122a18-1122b17).  In Practical Intelligence and the Virtues, Daniel C. Russell discusses Aristotle’s view, arguing that magnificence is a specialized virtue that is subordinate to the more basic or primary virtue of generosity.  Russell mentions but dismisses Aquinas’ view (following Cicero) that magnificence is subordinate to courage or fortitude (Russell 2009, 219, n. 17).   In this essay, I argue for the following claims: (1) Magnificence can be a virtue, and can include, in addition to motives of generosity, motives of courage, as well as of confidence, patience, and perseverance.  In expanding the range of motives in this way, I, like Aquinas, follow Cicero.  (2) Magnificence can be a vice, and can include any number of morally unworthy motives, such as the desire to ingratiate oneself, self-aggrandizement, or envy.  (3) Magnificence can be what I call an ‘impure’ virtue.  A virtue is impure if the motives it includes are not all morally worthy, but are mixed.  A set of mixed motives consists of morally worthy and morally neutral motives.  The presence of morally vicious motives in a set renders the set not mixed, but vicious, and can render the trait that includes the set a vice.


Nancy Snow is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Institute for the Study of Human Flourishing at the University of Oklahoma. She is the author of Virtue as Social Intelligence: An Empirically Grounded Theory(Routledge, 2009) and over thirty papers on virtue and ethics more broadly. She is currently revising a monograph on hope, writing one on virtue ethics and virtue epistemology, and co-authoring a book on virtue measurement.


Robin Jeshion
University of Southern California 

“Pride and Prejudice: On the Appropriation of Slurs”
Friday, March 10, 2017
Knight Physics Bldg, Room 334
2:00-4:00 p.m.

Abstract: Slurring terms are pejorative expressions that target individuals on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, nationality, socioeconomic status, occupation, and various other socially important properties. They are tools of subordination and their use a threat to human dignity. Notoriously, slurs are often appropriated, resulting in uses that neutralize their sting. How is this possible? What are the mechanisms that make appropriation possible? In this talk, I will advance an expressivist theory of slurring terms and explicate how understanding certain very general mechanisms of semantic change can help underwrite this theory.

Robin Jeshion is a professor at the University of Southern California, specializing in philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, and the epistemology of mathematical knowledge. She previously held faculty positions at Yale University and University of California, Riverside, was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and won a Burkhardt Fellowship. 

Don Fallis
University of Arizona 

“A Bayesian Epistemology of Deception”
Friday, March 3, 2017
Knight Physics Bldg, Room 334
2:00-4:00 p.m.

Abstract: Intelligence analysts, such as Barton Whaley (1982), J. Bowyer Bell (2003), and Neil C. Rowe and Julian Rrushi (2016), have developed taxonomies of deception techniques, including such things as masking, dazzling, mimicking, and decoying.  As it is an important threat to *knowledge*, the study of *deception* and its various forms falls within the scope of epistemology.  And epistemologists should be able to answer two questions about the deception techniques discussed by intelligence analysts.  First, what epistemic consequences do they share such that they all count as deception?  Second, how do their epistemic consequences differ such that they count as distinct deception techniques?  The philosophers Roderick Chisholm and Thomas Feehan (1977) have proposed an influential scheme for classifying types of deception in terms of their epistemic consequences.  But I argue that this scheme is too course-grained to distinguish between the various forms that deception can take because it only utilizes a simple categorical belief model of cognitive states.  I show how we can use Bayesian epistemology, which represents cognitive states in terms of credences, in order to understand what unifies and what distinguishes the various deception techniques.

Don Fallis is Professor of Information and Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at the University of Arizona.  His primary research area is the philosophy of lying and deception.  His articles in this area have appeared in the Journal of Philosophy, Philosophical Studies, and the Australasian Journal of Philosophy.  He has also discussed lying and deception on Philosophy TV and in several volumes of the Philosophy and Popular Culture series.

Selim Berker
Harvard University

“A Combinatorial Argument Against Practical Reasons for Belief”
Friday, February 24, 2017
Learning Center, Room 170
2:00-4:00 p.m.

Abstract: Are there practical reasons for belief? For example, do the practical benefits of holding a certain belief count in favor of the belief itself? I argue "No." My argument involves considering how practical reasons for belief, if there were such, would combine with other reasons for belief in order to yield all-things-considered verdicts.

Selim Berker is Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University. His primary research interests are in ethics and epistemology, which he sees as two aspects of the same field—ethics being the study of what, if anything, we ought to do, and epistemology the study of what, if anything, we ought to believe.


Roman Frigg
London School of Economics

“Modelling and Representing”
Friday, February 17, 2017
Knight Physics Bldg, Room 334
2:00-4:00 p.m.

Abstract: Scientific models are representations. Building on Goodman and Elgin’s theory of pictorial representation we analyse what this claim involves by providing a general definition of what makes something a scientific model, and formulating a novel account of how they represent. We call the result the DEKI account of representation, which offers a complex kind of representation involving an interplay of denotation, exemplification, keying up of properties, and imputation. Throughout we focus on material models, and we illustrate our claims with the Phillips-Newlyn machine. In the conclusion we suggest that, mutatis mutandis, the DEKI account can be carried over to other kinds of models, notably fictional and mathematical models.

Roman Frigg is Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method, Director of the Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science (CPNSS), and Co-Director of the Centre for the Analysis of Time Series (CATS) at the London School of Economics and Political Science. His research interests lie in general philosophy of science and philosophy of physics, and he has published papers on climate change, quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics, randomness, chaos, complexity, probability, scientific realism, computer simulations, modelling, scientific representation, reductionism, confirmation, and the relation between art and science. His current work focuses on predictability and climate change, the foundation of statistical mechanics, and the nature of scientific models and theories.  He is the winner of the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. He is a permanent visiting professor in the Munich Centre for Mathematical Philosophy of the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, and he held visiting appointments in the Rotman Institute of Philosophy of the University of Western Ontario, the Descartes Centre for the History and Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities of the University of Utrecht, the Sydney Centre for the Foundations of Science of the University of Sydney, and the Department of Logic, History and Philosophy of Science of the University of Barcelona. He is associate editor of the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, member of the steering committee of the European Philosophy of Science Association, and serves on a number of editorial and advisory boards.

Dr. Benedetta Rossi
University of Birmingham

“Slaves of the Central Sahel: Colonial Law, Slave Resistance, and Periodising African Emancipation”
Monday, February 13, 2017
Memorial Building, Room 315
4:00 pm—6:00 pm

Abstract: At the beginning of the twentieth century French colonial administrators in West Africa were abolitionists, but Africans were not. Studies of slavery and abolition in Africa assume that the beginning of the end of slavery coincided with the passing of colonial anti-slavery legislation. This interpretation yields periodisations of African emancipation paced primarily by the legal stages of European abolitionism. This is problematic. If our aim is to write a history of emancipation in African societies, then our analyses should explore African ideas, voices, and political struggles: when, how, and why did enslaved and/or free Africans begin to challenge the legitimacy of slavery as an institution? How did African slaves and slave owners relate to European abolitionism? This paper focuses on the Tahoua and Gouré-N’Guigmi regions of the Central Sahel in the first half of the twentieth century. Tahoua’s cases illustrate the resistance of slaves and slave descendants who had been integrated in local hierarchies for generations. By contrast, Gouré-N’Guigmi’s cases illustrate the circumstances of recently enslaved and trafficked persons intercepted by colonial officers and suddenly allowed to walk free. This paper explores the world of African slaves and slave owners; it outlines the resilience of slavery and the development of abolitionism in the Central Sahel in the course of the twentieth century.

Benedetta Rossi is Reader in African History and Anthropology in the Department of African Studies and Anthropology (DASA) of the University of Birmingham (UK). She is the 2016 Evans Pritchard Lecturer at All Souls College, Oxford. Her book From Slavery to Aid: Politics, Labour, and Ecology in the Nigerien Sahel, 1800-2000 (CUP, 2015) is finalist for the 2016 Melville J. Herskovits Award awarded by African Studies Association (USA) and for the 2016 Fage and Oliver Prize awarded by the African Studies Association (UK). She is Reviews Editor of the Journal of Global Slavery and one of four scientific editors for a forthcoming Encyclopédie de l'Esclavage (CNRS, Seuil). She is senior researcher in three major international partnerships on slavery in Africa (EU RISE Network Grant), sexual slavery and forced marriage (Canada SSHRC grant), and Children Born of War in Africa (EU Innovative Training Network grant). She is Departmental Head of Graduate Studies at the University of Birmingham. She holds a Ph.D. in Social Anthropology from the London School of Economics (LSE, University of London). For her Ph.D. and post-doctoral projects she conducted over four years of field-based research in the Republic of Niger (funded by ESRC and RCUK grants). Her work focuses on the history and anthropology of slavery in twentieth century Africa, labour history, environmental history, and the critical history of planned development aid. She is currently writing her second monograph, Slavery and Emancipation in Twentieth Century Africa, contracted with Cambridge University Press (New Approaches to African History series). 

Steven Savitt
University of British Columbia

“Crisp Thoughts: An Examination and Critique of Relativistic Presentism”
Friday, February 10, 2017
Richter Library Conference Room, 3rd Floor                                                              
2:00-4:00 p.m.

Abstract: In a recent paper, Tom Crisp attempts to establish the consistency of a form of presentism, which he calls General Relativistic Presentism (GRP), with the general theory of relativity (GR). I will present Crisp’s argument and then make three points by way of criticism: (1) Crisp fails to distinguish presentism from eternalism. (2) At most (and waiving the first problem for the sake of argument) he establishes a necessary condition for presentism in general relativistic spacetimes. (3) A remarkable recent theorem shows that we can never know that this necessary condition obtains in our spacetime, assuming that GR is true.

Steven Savitt earned an AB degree from Columbia College in 1964 and a Ph. D. from Brandeis University in 1972. Both degrees were in philosophy. He was a member of the department of philosophy of The University of British Columbia from 1969 until he retired in 2015. Early in his career he specialized in logic and philosophy of logic, but later on he turned more to philosophy of science and, especially, philosophy of time. He has published a number of scholarly articles, most recently “Kit Fine on Tense and Reality” in a special issue on time of the journal Manuscrito: International Journal of Philosophy. He edited a book for Cambridge University Press: Time’s Arrows Today: Recent Physical and Philosophical Work on the Direction of Time. He also maintains the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry “Being and Becoming in Modern Physics”.


Julia Tanney
Independent Researcher

“What Knowledge is Not:Reflections on Some Uses of the Verb ‘To Know’”
Friday, January 27, 2017
Knight Physics Bldg, Room 334
2:00-4:00 p.m.

Abstract: This paper, grounded on the work of Austin, Ryle, Toulmin, Urmson, Wisdom and Wittgenstein, argues that philosophical investigations into the nature of knowledge, like those of other abstractions, cannot be conducted without attention to what we say and understand when using the relevant expressions.  An examination of first- and third-person singular uses of ‘to know’ reveals serious difficulties with traditional doctrines of epistemology: namely, that knowledge is a type of mental state; in particular, a belief that is true and justified.  The influence of philosophical scepticism is examined, including the supposition that only analytic entailments can attain the standards to which our claims to knowledge aspire.  The dispute between the reductionist and the realist – deemed here to be hopeless – exemplifies implicit acceptance of this supposition.  This paper clarifies its position with respect to traditional dogmas in philosophy of language and ends on a negative note about the prospects for semantic theory and the formalisation of natural language expressions.

Julia Tanney has written numerous articles in philosophy of mind and language, focusing especially on reason explanation, rule-following, self-knowledge, and the nature of philosophical investigation. Her collected papers, Rules, Reason, and Self-Knowledge, was published by Harvard in 2013. She is an international expert on the philosophy of Gilbert Ryle and the later Wittgenstein. Having spent most of her career in the UK, with visiting posts in France, she now works independently, dividing her time between Paris and the South of France. 

Dana Goswick
University of Melbourne

 “A Devitt-Proof Constructivism”
Friday, November 11, 2016
University Center, Room 2300
2:00pm - 4:00pm

 Abstract: I distinguish 20th century Constructivists (e.g. Goodman, Putnam) whose anti-Realism is global and is motivated by epistemic and semantic concerns about Realism from 21st century Constructivists (e.g. Einheuser, Goswick, Sidelle) whose anti-Realism is local and is motivated by specific metaphysical concerns.  I argue that the 21st century Constructivist programme is plausible in a way the 20th century Constructivist programme is not. In particular, I argue that 21st century Constructivism is immune to the anti-Constructivist arguments Devitt presents in Truth and Realism and in Putting Metaphysics First.

 Dana Goswick is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Melbourne in Australia. Her current work concerns modality, ordinary objects, and realism. She argues that the negative modalities (not necessarily not, not possibly not) are weaker than the positive modalities (possibly, necessarily). She defends a response-dependent hylomorphic view of ordinary objects. In particular, she argues that ordinary objects are composites of sort-properties and stuff. With regard to Realism, she argues that defining Realism in terms of mind-independence is archaic and anthropocentric. She is currently trying to come up with a better, 21st century, version of Realism.

The 44th Annual Meeting of the Society for Exact Philosophy

May 6-8, 2016
University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida

44th Annual Meeting of the SEP CFP

For more details email:

Conference Website:

SEP Website:

"The SEP is dedicated to providing sustained discussion among researchers who believe that rigorous methods have a place in philosophical investigations."

Publishing Workshop

Ties Nijssen
Springer Academic Publishers

Thursday, May 5, 2016
Ashe Building, Room 735A
3:00 pm—4:30 pm

This workshop explains the different possibilities to publish academic work and presents some tips on how to best address publishers with your book proposal. The workshop will adopt a general approach, that is, it is not focused on one publisher and aims to present a publisher’s perspective on academic proposals / publications. There will be plenty of room for questions and discussion about developments in publishing.

 Ties Nijssen has over 10 years of experience in educational and academic publishing. He is currently responsible for Springer’s Philosophy of Science journal and book portfolio, and in this capacity he oversees the publication of about 40 books per year and works on 14 academic journals. He holds a Master degree in Philosophy from the Erasmus University of Rotterdam and a Bachelor in Commerce from the Haarlem Business School.

A Metaphysics Festival: Fundamental Truthmakers

The University of Miami
April 22-23, 2016

Among the themes discussed will be the motivations of truthmaker theory, the nature of truth-bearers and the truthmaking relation, the essence of truth and its kinds, the connection between truth and fundamentality, the categories of truthmakers, and the relationship between manifest and scientific truthmakers.

Otávio Bueno/University of Miami
Ross Cameron/University of Virginia
Javier Cumpa/University of Miami
John Heil/Washington University in St Louis
Thomas Hofweber/UNC-Chapel Hill
Kris McDaniel/Syracuse University
Erwin Tegtmeier/University of Mannheim
Amie Thomasson/University of Miami

For more information:

 Philosophy: East & West

Thursday, April 14, 2016
Richter Library, 3rd Floor Conference Room
3:00pm - 5:00pm

Jialian Li                       Jifeng Niu
Hubei University            Beijing Normal University

 Haichao Li                   Niling Jiang
Shandon University        Fundan University

 Jialian Li, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Hubei University, and post-doctoral fellow at Zhejiang University. Her academic focus is on moral sentimentalism in 18th-century British philosophy and on the comparative study between Western and Chinese moral sentimentalism. She has translated works written by Francis Hutcheson into Chinese, such as An Inquiry into the Original of our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue and An Essay on Nature and Conduct of Passions and Affections, with Illustration on the Moral Sense. She has published two monographs (Sentimental Origin of Morality and Introduction to Philosophy) and several academic papers. All of her publications focus on the topic of moral sentimentalism.

Jifeng Niu is a Ph.D. candidate at the College of Philosophy and Sociology, Beijing Normal University. Her academic interest is concerned with sentimentalist ethics.

Haichao Li is a Ph.D. candidate at the Advanced Institute of Confucian Studies, Shandong University, with academic focus on Confucian Philosophy.

Niling Jiang is a Ph.D. candidate from Fudan University, with focus on Chinese philosophy. Her dissertation addresses the relationship between generality and particularity in different contexts, and how we can act morally according to early Confucian philosophy.

Anna-Sara Malmgren
Stanford University

“Goodness, Availability, and Argument Structure”
Friday 15, 2016
Memorial Building, Room 217
3:00pm - 5:00pm

On a widely shared conception of inferential justification, an agent is inferentially justified in believing that p only if she has an antecedently justified belief in each of the (non-redundant) premises of a good argument for p. Here I would like to discuss some under-explored questions that, it seems, seriously complicate the application of this conception to particular cases. First: what is a good argument, in the intended sense? Second: what counts as a relevantly complete representation of a given argument form—complete, that is, vis-à-vis the epistemic and psychological demands that the standard conception puts on the agent? Third: what’s the right way to regiment an ostensibly enthymematic argument, in the context of theorizing about justification?

Anna-Sara Malmgren is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University, working at the intersection of epistemology and philosophy of mind. She has published papers in Philosophical Review, Mind, and elsewhere. Her monograph, On Inference, is under contract with Oxford University Press.

 First Annual Inclusiveness Conference

"Gender in the Academy"

Mary Anne Franks
- Unversity of Miami
Shannon Dea
- Unversity of Waterloo
Jennifer Saul
- University of Sheffield

Thursday, April 7, 2016
School of Business, Aresty Building, Room 532
4:00 pm - 6:30 pm

Friday, April 8, 2016
School of Business, Stubblefield Classroom Building, room 508
12:00 pm -5:00 pm

Despite the inroads women have made in degrees earned, women are still drastically underrepresented in certain academic disciplines, including philosophy and STEM disciplines.  What might explain the disparities? And what can be done about it - and to create a more inclusive environment for everyone?

This two - day workshop includes lectures from renowned experts on various aspects of the problem as well as a collective discussion about ways to go forward.  The conference is free and open to the entire university community.

 Roy Sorensen
Washington University, St Louis

 “The Most Demanding Morality is the Least Demanding”
Friday, April 1, 2016
Knight Physics Bldg, Room 334
3:00pm - 5:00pm

According to the logical fatalist, there is exactly one possible world. Deontic logic forbids the impossible, so fatalism requires us to do exactly what we actually do. Although not designed as a morality, fatalism is a catalyst triggering deontic logic into crystallizing a complete account of everyone’s obligations. Whereas Arthur Prior derives an `ought’ from an `is’, the fatalist derives an `ought’ without an `is’! Non-fatalists can do the same for the impossibilities they acknowledge. This logical point has affected the fatalism of the Stoics, Spinoza, and the crypto-fatalism of Gottfried Leibniz and David Lewis. This is easiest to discern with the lazy argument – first deployed against the Stoics and then reincarnated as the moral passivity objection to modal realism.

 Roy Sorensen interests are philosophy of language, epistemology, and metaphysics. He is the author of six books: BlindspotsThought ExperimentsPseudo-ProblemsVagueness and ContradictionA Brief History of the Paradox; and Seeing Dark Things.

Zehra Peynircioglu
American University

Cognitive Processing of Nonverbal Auditory Information
Friday, March 25, 2016
Richter Library, 3rd Floor Conference Room
3:00pm - 5:00pm

Semantics is very important to memory and perception. We have an easier time mentally manipulating and remembering stimuli that are meaningful and can be verbally described. At the very least such stimuli lend themselves to conceptual elaboration, which improves performance on most cognitive tasks. Introspectively, making sense of nonverbal stimuli, relying only or mostly on sensory or modality-specific information is more nebulous. Within the auditory domain, human voices and music fall into the category of such nonverbal stimuli. I will give a brief overview of the past research from our lab on memory and metamemory for human voices and melodies. Then I will describe some current research on human voice recognition.

Zehra Peynircioglu received her BA from Stanford, MA from Princeton, and Ph.D. from Rice (MA and Ph.D. advisor: Mike Watkins), majoring in psychology. Her first job in Turkey was at Bogazici University, and since then she have been working at American University. Her research areas include memory, some metamemory, bilingualism, music cognition, and curious memory and cognitive phenomena of all sorts.   

Bob Kentridge
University of Durham

Empirical results in colour vision that might inform debate in the philosophy of perception
Monday, March 21, 2016
Knight Physics Bldg, Room 334
3:00pm - 5:00pm

Philosophers and psychologists share a common interest in understanding colour perception. For both it is a surprisingly complex problem. To what uses do we put colour information? Is perceiving ‘colour’, in its broadest sense, the key underlying feature of vision, its ‘proper sensible’ as Aristotle would have claimed? Are colour perception and colour sensation different? If perception involves estimation of the properties of objects in the world, rather than simply experiencing colour qualia, is it possible to perceive colour unconsciously? Is colour perception derived from colour sensation, as Helmholtz and Democritus would have claimed? I will present empirical results from experiments with a patient with the neurological condition cerebral achromatopsia (cortical colour blindness) and from experiments with normal observers that suggest answers to these questions.

Bob Kentridge is an experimental psychologist at Durham University in the North East of England. Over the last twenty years his work has concentrated on questions in visual perception, particularly regarding the perception of colour and material properties, visual attention, and visual experience. Many of the questions he addresses arose from work with neurological patients with blindsight and cerebral achromatopsia (cortical colour blindness) which he has gone on to test using psychophysical and neuroimaging methods in normal observers. His work on visual attention without visual awareness and on colour processing in cerebral achromatopsia have formed the basis of fruitful exchanges with philosophers in recent years.

Tim Bayne
University of Manchester

“Can We Build a Consciousness Meter”
Monday, February 29, 2016
Memorial Building, Room 316
3:00pm - 5:00pm

One of the central challenges facing the science of consciousness is that of identifying ways of measuring consciousness. Can we go beyond our pre-theoretical ways of detecting consciousness and develop measures that are independently validated? Some theorists think not, and argue that we are necessarily restricted to the pre-theoretical markers of consciousness with which we begin. Other theorists are more optimistic, and think that we will be able to develop independent measures of consciousness. This talk considers these questions in the light of recent work on the cognitive neuroscience of disorders of consciousness.

Tim Bayne is a philosopher of mind and cognitive science, with a particular interest in the nature of consciousness. He completed an undergraduate degree in Philosophy and Religious Studies at the University of Otago (New Zealand), and Ph.D in Philosophy at the University of Arizona. He has taught at Macquarie University and the University of Oxford. He is currently Professor of Philosophy at the University of Manchester and also at the University of Western Ontario. He is the author of The Unity of Consciousness and Thought: A Very Short Introduction.

Elizabeth Camp
Rutgers University

“Insinuation, Indirection, and the Conversational Record”
Friday, February 26, 2016
Memorial Building, Room 217
3:00pm - 5:00pm

Most philosophical and linguistic theorizing about communication focuses on cooperative forms of communication.  However, much verbal communication involves parties whose interests are not fully aligned, or who do not know their degree of alignment.  I argue that insinuation is a form of speaker’s meaning in which speakers communicate without adding what is communicated to the conversational scoreboard, or sometimes even to the common ground.  In addition to its inherent practical relevance (especially in an election year), making sense of the ways in which speakers and hearers manipulate off-record meaning suggests a way to ground the distinction between semantics and pragmatics more firmly in the practice of ordinary speakers and hearers.

Elizabeth Camp received her PhD from UC Berkeley.  She spent three years at the Harvard Society of Fellows, and taught at the University of Pennsylvania from 2006 until joining Rutgers in 2013.  Between college and grad school, she worked in Chicago, designing and implementing programs for GED instruction in public housing and for ESL instruction in the Latino community. Her research focuses on thoughts and utterances that don’t fit standard propositional models.  She is especially interested in metaphor and other forms of figurative speech; in slurs and other forms of ‘loaded’ language; in cognitive perspectives and emotions; and in non-sentential representational systems such as maps and diagrams.


Markus Gabriel
University of Bonn

“Ontological Relativism”
Thursday, February 25, 2016
Ashe Building, Room 735A
3:00pm - 5:00pm

Abstract: In this paper, I will explore central aspects of ontological relativism, that is, the view that answers to questions of existence can only be provided relative to a given domain because there is no absolute or all-encompassing domain of existing objects. I first consider some fairly recent relativistic claims about existence in light of proposals by Ernest Sosa and Carol Rovane. Given that there are various mutually incompatible contemporary views about the conditions a position has to meet in order to count as relativistic, I then discuss the question, what kind of relativism might be driving these accounts.

 Markus Gabriel received his Ph.D. (Dr. Phil.) and his Habilitation from the University of Heidelberg and, after a Postdoc at NYU, held both visiting and permanent positions at many universities (such as UC Berkeley and The New School for Social Research). Since 2009 he holds the Chair in Epistemology, Modern and Contemporary Philosophy at the University of Bonn in Germany. He is also the director of the International Center for Philosophy (, mainly working on metaphysics/ontology, epistemology and the history of philosophy (primarily Ancient Philosophy and German Idealism).


Magdalena Balcerak Jackson
University of Miami

"Imagining Fictional Worlds"
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Memorial Building, Room 109
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

We say that when we read a work of literary fiction, we imagine the world, the characters and the events the fiction describes. The rich exercise of the imagination is one of the things that distinguish reading fiction from reading operating instructions of a new dishwasher, or the timetable of the Metrorail. But what exactly is the role of the imagination for reading fiction, and how are these peculiar imaginings like? In this talk, I will investigate how our imagination as readers is not only necessary for our understanding of literary fictions, but also necessary for completing the story.

 Magdalena Balcerak Jackson (Ph.D. (Dr.phil.), University of Cologne), Assistant Professor. She works primarily in philosophy of mind, epistemology and meta-philosophy, but she is also interested on the intersections of these areas with philosophy of language and philosophy of science, and in phenomenology. Her current research projects focus on imagination, reasoning, philosophical methodology and foundational questions in epistemology, such as the basis of a priori knowledge. She has published articles in journals and collected volumes with Oxford University Press, and she is currently co-editing a collection of papers on theoretical and practical reasoning and editing the philosophy of mind section of the journal Thought.             

Karen Bennett
Cornell University

“Relative Fundamentality”
Friday, February 19, 2016
Memorial Building, Room 217
3:00pm - 5:00pm

 Philosophers frequently make claims about some phenomenon being “more fundamental than,” “more basic than”, or “metaphysically prior to” another.  Yet this kind of talk has received very little scrutiny.  In this talk I argue for a reductive account of relative fundamentality, and explore its consequences.

 Karen Bennett is a Professor in the Sage School of Philosophy at Cornell University. She has been at Cornell since 2007, was a Visiting Associate Professor at NYU during Fall 2010, and was Assistant Professor at Princeton University until 2007. Before that, she did her Ph.D. at the University of Michigan and spent some time as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Research School of the Social Sciences at the Australian National University. Her primary research interests are in metaphysics and philosophy of mind.

Nick Stang
University of Toronto

“Transcendental Idealism Without Tears”
Thursday, February 18, 2016
Ashe Building, Room 735A
3:00pm - 5:00pm

Abstract: Contemporary metaphysicians in the analytic tradition generally ignore idealism. In the case of Kantian transcendental idealism (KTI), and various forms of post-Kantian idealism (e.g. Hegel’s absolute idealism), this neglect is almost total. This paper is an attempt to explain one strand of KTI to a contemporary audience and motivate it as a position in meta-metaphysics, specifically, in meta-ontology (i.e. as a view about we are doing when we make claims about what there is). At the end, a brief attempt is made to explain post-Kantian idealism (Fichte, Schelling, Hegel) in similar terms. Reference to historical texts will be kept to an absolute minimum.

Nick Stang (PhD, Princeton) is Assistant Professor and Canada Research Chair in Metaphysics and its History at the University of Toronto. He works at the intersection of metaphysics and classical German philosophy (especially, Kant). His first book, Kant's Modal Metaphysics, will be published by Oxford University Press in Spring 2016.

David Plunkett
Dartmouth College

“Which Concepts Should We Use?
Metalinguistic Negotiations & the Methodology of Philosophy”

Friday, February 12, 2016
Memorial Building, Room 217
3:00pm - 5:00pm

This paper is about philosophical disputes where the literal content of what speakers communicate concerns such object-level issues as ground, supervenience, or real definition. It is tempting to think that such disputes straightforwardly express disagreements about these topics. In contrast to this, I suggest that, in many such cases, the disagreement that is expressed is actually one about which concepts should be employed. I make this case as follows. First, I look at non-philosophical, everyday disputes where a speaker employs (often without awareness of doing so) a metalinguistic usage of a term. This is where a speaker uses a term (rather than mentions it) to express a view about the meaning of that term, or, relatedly, how to correctly use that term. A metalinguistic negotiation is a metalinguistic dispute that concerns a normative issue about what a word should mean, or, similarly, about how it should be used, rather than the descriptive issue about what it does mean. I argue that the same evidence that supports thinking that certain ordinary disputes are metalinguistic negotiations also supports thinking that some (perhaps many) philosophical disputes are. I then explore some of the methodological upshots of this understanding of philosophical disputes.

David Plunkett is an Assistant Professor in the Philosophy Department at Dartmouth College. He was recently a visiting fellow at the University Center of Human Values at Princeton University and the H.L.A. Hart visiting fellow at the University of Oxford. His main areas of current research are in Metaethics, Ethics, Philosophy of Law, and the Philosophy of Mind and Language.

Ned Markosian
University of Massachusetts

“Stuff is not Enough”
Friday, January 29, 2016
Memorial Building, Room 217
3:00pm - 5:00pm

In a recent paper (Markosian, “The Right Stuff,” Australasian Journal of Philosophy 93 (2015)), I argued that we ought to include stuff in our ontology. In this talk I will first review the main reasons (by my lights) for positing stuff, and then I will argue that stuff is not enough. In particular, I will argue that a stuff-only ontology is not adequate to capture certain claims that we want to make about ourselves, about personal identity, and about singular facts. I will also discuss a lingering worry facing the particular combination of views about things and stuff that I endorse.

Ned Markosian is a professor of philosophy at The University of Massachusetts, in Amherst, Massachusetts. His main areas of research are the metaphysics of physical objects (especially the mereology of those objects and the relation between physical objects and the matter that constitutes them), and time.

Jon Garthoff
University of Tennessee

“Animal Punishment”
Friday, December 4, 2015
Memorial Building, Room TBA
2:30pm - 4:30pm

An account of punishment must confront the fact that we punish creatures, such as dogs and one-year-old children, who lack the capacities of reflection and critical reason. These are ordinary instances of punishment, not deviant cases or mere metaphors. In this essay I distinguish three categories of animals by their respective mental capacities and I discuss the different types of punishment appropriate for animals of each category.  This exercise has multiple purposes. One is to illuminate the punishment of animals, a neglected domain of ethics. A second purpose is to illuminate each type of punishment through comparison and contrast with the others. This forestalls the overintellectualization of punishment in general due to viewing humans as the only paradigm and forestalls the underintellectualization of human punishment due to making no essential reference to their critically rational capacities. A third purpose is to argue that these observations support a unified account of human punishment, an account where the three traditional justifications for punishment – retribution, deterrence, and rehabilitation – are united by a single overarching purpose.

Jon Garthoff is Assistant Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Philosophy Department at the University of Tennessee. He works primarily in ethical theory, and is especially interested in how psychological capacities¾including capacities possessed by many nonhuman animals, such as perception, consciousness, and judgment¾figure in our best understanding of ethics, politics, and law.

Julia Langkau
University of Konstanz

 “Knowledge from Fiction and Perspective Taking”
Thursday, December 10, 2015
CAS Wesley Art Gallery (1210 Stanford Drive)
3:00pm - 5:00pm

I suggest that fiction can be used to gain substantive counterfactual knowledge in much the same way counterfactual knowledge is thought to be gained in thought experiments. In particular, I discuss the imaginative process of perspective taking presumably involved in making certain judgments on the basis of fiction. Two kinds of perspective taking have to be distinguished: an imagine-other and an imagine-self perspective. Peter Goldie claims that 'empathetic perspective-shifting' (taking the imagine-self perspective) fails for conceptual reasons. I argue that Goldie doesn’t succeed in establishing his claim, and even though empirical evidence suggests that the imagine-self perspective is not generally reliable, fiction might be a context where it is particularly easy.

Julia Langkau is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Zukunftskolleg and the Department of Philosophy of the University of Konstanz and a Researcher at the Department of Philosophy of the University of Zurich. She is currently working on a project on emotion and fiction. She did her Ph.D. on intuitions and philosophical methodology at the Philosophical Methodology Project of the Arche Research Centre for Logic, Language, Metaphysics and Epistemology at the University of St. Andrews (Scotland).

Michael De
University of Konstanz

“On the Humphrey Objection to Modal Realism”
Friday, December 11, 2015
CAS Wesley Art Gallery (1210 Stanford Drive)
1:00pm - 3:00pm

Saul Kripke gave a famous, intuitive, and forceful objection to modal realism that has come to be known as the Humphrey objection. I assess the argument under various precise formulations and conclude that there are only two viable ways out for the modal realist. The first involves treating ordinary individuals as transworld sums, the other involves lifting the ban that worlds never mereologically overlap. I defend the first of these on independent grounds.

Michael De is a Postdoctoral Fellow in philosophy at the University of Konstanz in a project funded by the European Research Council on indeterminism and free will. This project was previously hosted at Utrecht University, Netherlands, where he spent two years prior to Konstanz. His research interests include logic, metaphysics, philosophy of mathematics and language, and epistemology. Until 2011, he was a Ph.D. student at the University of St Andrews in the Arché Research Centre for Logic, Language, Metaphysics and Epistemology where he is an Associate Fellow. While there, he was a member of the AHRC-funded Foundations of Logical Consequence project.

Sean Hermanson
Florida International University

 “Yet Another Paper About Implicit Bias”
Friday, November 20, 2015
Memorial Building, Room 200
3:00pm - 5:00pm

Implicit associations are often thought to cause us to act in prejudicial ways diverging from our declared egalitarian beliefs.  For example, studies show a departmental committee might implicitly prefer a male candidate to a female candidate with the same qualifications despite holding conscious and explicit attitudes about the equality of the sexes.  Or do they?  I contend that research on this and related matters are not as settled as many philosophers currently believe.  New data pertinent to questions about the causes of underrepresention and specific hypotheses about implicit bias will also be presented.

Sean Hermanson (PhD, Toronto) is an associate professor at Florida International University.  He has written about animal consciousness (in bees, monkeys and bats), the extended mind, and the reliability of introspection.  He also maintains interests in various issues where philosophy meets the cognitive sciences, including consciousness and representation, altruism, human nature, and implicit bias. 

Julian Cole
SUNY Buffalo State

“Can Social Constructs be Atemporal and Amodal”
Friday, October 23, 2015
Memorial Building, Room 200
3:00pm - 5:00pm

Julian Cole is an associate professor of philosophy at SUNY Buffalo State. He graduated from the University of St. Andrews with a Ph.D. in mathematics under the supervision of Dr. Lars Olsen in 1999 and from the Ohio State University with a Ph.D. in philosophy under the supervision of Professor Stewart Shapiro in 2005. After teaching for a couple of years at the University of Texas – Pan American, he joined the faculty at SUNY Buffalo State in 2008. His primary research interests are in the philosophy of mathematics and social ontology, topics on which he has made presentations all over the world, including at the University of Melbourne, the University of Adelaide, his alma mater the University of St. Andrews, the University of Hong Kong, and, closer to home, Stanford University. From his Ph.D. dissertation Practice-Dependent Realism and Mathematics to his recent article in Erkenntnis ‘Social Construction, Mathematics, and the Collective Imposition of Function onto Reality’ he has been developing and defending an account of mathematics that takes mathematical reality to be a product of mathematical activities. He is currently on sabbatical leave working on a book on his conception of the relationship between abstract reality and social reality.

11th Annual National Meeting of the
American Synesthesia Association, Inc.

October 3 - 4, 2015
Learning Center, Room 110
8:00 am - 4:00pm

For more details email:

Synesthesia Conference Program



Bennett L. Schwartz
Florida International University

 “Tip-of-the-tongue States, Déjà vu Experiences, & Other Odd Metamemory Experiences”

Friday, September 11, 2015
Memorial Building, Room 200
3:00pm - 5:00pm

Bennett L. Schwartz is a Professor of Psychology and Fellow of the Honors College at Florida International University.   A native of Long Island, New York, he earned both his Bachelor’s degree (1988) and Ph.D. (1993) from Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.  He then moved to Florida International University in Miami, Florida, where he has been ever since.  He does research on metamemory, human memory, and non-human primate memory.  He has published over fifty journal articles in these areas.  His textbook, Memory:  Foundations and Applications (2nd edition, Sage Publications, 2014) is an accessible textbook on memory science presented in clear and understandable language. His new textbook (with John Krantz), Sensation and Perception (2016) is receiving rave reviews.  He is currently president of the Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology, and he has served as associate editor or on the editorial board of several journal in cognitive and comparative psychology. He teaches courses in Memory, Cognitive Psychology, and Sensation and Perception.

Jean-Yves Béziau
Federal University of Rio de Janeiro

“Round Squares are Not Contradictions”

Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Richter Library, 3rd Floor Conference Room
3:00pm - 5:00pm

Jean-Yves Béziau has a Ph.D. in mathematics (University of Paris 7) and a Ph.D. in philosophy (University of São Paulo). He has worked in France, Brazil, Poland, Swizerland, and the U.S. (UCLA and Stanford). He is the founder and editor-in-chief of the Journal Logica Universalis (Birkhäuser / Springer, Basel) and the logic area editor of the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. He is currently professor of philosophy at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and visiting scholar at the University of California, San Diego.


Berit Brogaard
University of Miami

"The Superhuman Mind"
Thursday, April 30, 2015
Memorial Building, Room 213
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Extraordinary mental abilities are often assumed to be something reserved for the lucky few with special genes that give rise to amazing minds—those of phenomenal artists like Michelangelo and Beethoven, tech moguls like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, and brilliant mathematicians like Einstein and Gödel. But if this is indeed the case, then how do we explain the fact that extraordinary mental abilities can be acquired virtually over night? Consider the case of Orlando Serrell. He was a perfectly ordinary kid, leading a perfectly ordinary existence for the first ten years of his life. Then in January 1979 a ball smashed into the left side of his head while he was playing baseball with friends. He fell to the ground, but eventually got up and continued playing. He did not get any medical treatment because he did not tell his parents about the accident. For weeks he suffered from a headache, which eventually ceased. Shortly thereafter Orlando realized that he had the ability to perform calendar calculations about days following his accident. For example, if you say January 15, 2004, he will immediately say “Thursday.” He cannot do it for any days prior to the incident. He can also recall the weather, as well as where he was and what he has done for nearly every day since the accident. This condition is known as savant syndrome, a phenomenon in which people show extraordinary abilities in a narrow range of capabilities, most typically in memory, music, art, calendar calculation, mathematics or spatial skills. Cases of acquired savant syndrome show that it’s not only special brains that can achieve the ultimate level of cognitive performance. Acquired savants from being ordinary individuals with average intelligence to geniuses in their special area of talent. What’s interesting about such cases is that they seem to be not far away at all from how the neurotypical brain functions. In other words, superhuman ability is not an otherworldly and impenetrable attribute of arcane brains. It’s not a God-given deftness, but something closer to an innate aptitude that lies dormant in the great majority of us. Acquired savants show us that ordinary brains have hidden superhuman abilities. We just can’t normally access these abilities. Brain injury, in certain lucky cases, facilitates access to otherwise inaccessible pockets of talent.

Berit (Brit) Brogaard (Ph.D., SUNY, Buffalo), Professor and Director of the Brogaard Lab for Multisensory Research. Her areas of research include perception, consciousness, emotions, philosophical psychology, semantics and philosophical logic. Brit has written over 100 peer-reviewed articles in journals such as Journal of Philosophy, Noûs, Philosophers' Imprint, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Analysis. She is the author of three books: Transient Truths (Oxford University Press, 2012), On Romantic Love (Oxford University Press, 2015), and Superhuman Mind (Penquin, 2015).

Gillian Barker
Rotman Institute of Philosophy, Western University

“Geo-Functions: A New Perspective for Understanding & Managing Global Change”
Monday, April 13, 2015
CAS Wesley Art Gallery (1210 Stanford Drive)
3:00pm - 5:00pm

Human activity is now disrupting all of the global-scale systems upon which our societies and indeed our survival depend. People around the world are working to find the best way of understanding and responding to this situation, but disagreement is rife. The need is urgent to find a way forward that takes proper account of the full range of relevant knowledge, values and options. A new and promising approach to the understanding and management of earth systems and their functioning—what I term the “geo-functions perspective”—has emerged over recent decades, and is now being taken up by different groups of researchers, activists, and policymakers. This perspective sees earth systems as functionally integrated, and focuses on the role that social-ecological functioning plays in these systems. It highlights the importance of nonlinear interactions between processes, the distinctive kinds of dangers and opportunities that these may create, and the consequent need for integration of understanding across disciplinary boundaries. As a result, it also creates a new and potentially important opportunity for philosophers to contribute to shaping scientific research and broader thinking concerning what we know and what we should do about changing earth systems.

 Gillian Barker is a member of the Rotman Institute of Philosophy, a center for collaborative interdisciplinary research at the intersection of philosophy and the sciences. Her research focuses on models and metaphors in the life and environmental sciences. Her new book on evolved human nature and the prospects for social change, Beyond Biofatalism: Human Nature for an Evolving World, will be released in September 2015 by Columbia University Press.

Thomas Kelly
Princeton University

 “Historical vs. Current Time Slice Theories in Epistemology”
Friday, April 3, 2015
Memorial Building, Room 217
3:00pm - 5:00pm

Dr. Thomas Kelly received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from Harvard University in 2001, and is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University. His interests are in Epistemology, History of Analytic Philosophy, Philosophy of Science, and Ethics. He has published many articles, including, “Disagreement and the Burdens of Judgment”, forthcoming in David Christensen and Jennifer Lackey (eds.), The Epistemology of Disagreement: New Essays (Oxford University Press), “Quine and Epistemology”, forthcoming in Gilbert Harman and Ernest Lepore (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to Quine (Blackwell), and “Disagreement in Philosophy”, forthcoming in Herman Cappelen, Tamar Szabó Gendler, and John Hawthorne (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Methodology (Oxford University Press).

Alan Goldman
College of William & Mary

“What Desires Are and Are Not”
Friday, March 6, 2015
CAS Wesley Art Gallery (1210 Stanford Drive)
3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

 Alan Goldman received his B.A. from Yale and Ph.D. from Columbia. Before becoming the Kenan Professor at Wlliam & Mary in 2002, he taught at the University of Miami for 25 years, 10 as chair of the department. He has held visiting positions at the University of Auckland, University of Michigan, and University of Colorado, as well as an NEH Fellowship in Residence at Princeton. He is the author of Justice and Reverse Discrimination (Princeton, 1979), The Moral Foundations of Professional Ethics (Rowman & Littlefield, 1980), Empirical Knowledge (California, 1988), Moral Knowledge (Routledge, 1988), Aesthetic Value (Westview, 1995), and Practical Rules: When We Need Them and When We Don't (Cambridge, 2002), as well as many articles in epistemology, ethics, aesthetics, and philosophy of law.  He is currently working on a book on the nature of practical reason, with the support of ACLS and NEH fellowship grants.


Karen Bennett
Cornell University

 “Relative Fundamentality”
Monday,  March 2, 2015
Richter Library, 3rd Floor Conference Room
3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Reception following discussion!

 Both philosophers and ordinary people are quite comfortable saying that one thing is more basic or more fundamental than another.  (Electrons are more fundamental than soda cans, for example.) But what does this kind of talk really come to?  I argue that it need not involve postulating a primitive notion of relative fundamentality, but is instead best understood as reducing to talk about what I call building relations.

 Karen Bennett is Professor of Philosophy at Cornell University.  She works primarily in metaphysics, and is finishing a book called Making Things Up for Oxford University Press.

JJ Valberg
University College London

Friday, February 27, 2015
CAS Wesley Art Gallery (1210 Stanford Drive)
3:00 pm –5:00 pm

Reception following discussion!

JJ Valberg studied philosophy at the University of Chicago where he received his Phd. He taught briefly at the University of Illinois (Urbana) and as a visitor at the University of Chicago before going to University College London - where he spent his teaching career. He is the author of 'The Puzzle Of Experience' (Oxford) and 'Dream, Death and the Self' (Princeton). He is currently writing a book on the nature of will. Retired from teaching, he lives in London.

Catherine Elgin
Harvard University

“Fallibilism’s Payoff”
Friday, February 13, 2015
CAS Wesley Art Gallery (1210 Stanford Drive)
3:00 pm –5:00 pm

Reception following discussion!

Catherine Elgin is a philosopher whose areas of study include the theory of knowledge, philosophy of art, and philosophy of science. Recent work considers the question of what makes something cognitively valuable. Elgin has argued that the pursuit of understanding, rather than the pursuit of knowledge, should be the focus of epistemology's concerns. Her recent work explores how similar problems arise in diverse branches of philosophy such as aesthetics, philosophy of language, and philosophy of science.

Keith Lehrer
University of Arizona

“Knowledge, Autonomy & Exemplars”
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Learning Center, Room 160
3:00 pm –5:00 pm

Reception following discussion!

I offer a new account of the relationship between agency, knowledge and representation.  Appealing to previous work, I argue that knowledge is justification of a target acceptance undefeated or refuted by error.  Acceptance, in contrast to simple belief, arises from evaluation of a target claim to meet objections by appeal to a background system.  Evaluation brings in agency, for one must choose whether to accept the objections considered in opposition to the target claim.  This choice is an expression of preferences in the background system concerning what to accept. When objections to a target claim have been met, the claim is justified.  However, the justification must not be defeated or refuted by errors in the background system.  If the target claim itself is false, that is sufficient to defeat or refute the justification, but the falsity of reasons may also defeat the justification.  Thus, some connection of acceptance with truth, a truth connection, is required to obtain a satisfactory theory of knowledge.  What provides the connection is the way in which experience becomes representational.  Experience provides us with exemplars, something like samples, that stand for a class of experiences.  The process of using an exemplar to represent a class of experience, which I call exemplarization, gives us a truth connection as the exemplar exhibits what the members of the class are like.  Being true of the members of the class the exemplar is reflexively true of itself.  From reflexive representation, exemplarization radiates beyond experience to exhibit what the external objects of art and science are like.  

Keith Lehrer is a Regents Professor of Philosophy, Emeritus at the University of Arizona and was a Research Professor at the University of Miami. His work concentrates on aesthetics, epistemology, free will, rational consensus and Thomas Reid. He has been a fellow of the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Science. His present research is focused on the philosophy of art.

Peter Kivy
Rutgers University

 “Joking Morality”
Friday, January 30, 2015
Memorial Building, Room 217
3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Reception following discussion!


In the final chapter of his wise and witty book, Jokes: Philosophical Thoughts on Joking Matters, the late Ted Cohen addressed, as he put it, “the widespread conviction, shared by me, that some jokes on some occasions, and maybe some jokes on all occasions are, as we say, ‘in bad taste,’ and should be thought of as morally objectionable.”  I am concerned here exclusively with the claim, which I think is true, that “some jokes […] are morally objectionable,” or, in a word, immoral. And in this paper I intend to do two things. First, I intend to explain what I think it is we find morally upsetting about some jokes, which is to say, what makes them immoral. Second, I intend to explain how I think we should deal with such immoral jokes.

Peter Kivy is Board of Governors Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. His field of specialization is aesthetics and the philosophy of art, with particular emphasis on the philosophy of music and the philosophy of literature. He has written extensively in these fields, and is the author, among several books, of Sound and Semblance: Reflections on Musical Representation (Princeton University Press, 1984), Music Alone: Philosophical Reflections on the Purely Musical Experience (Cornell University Press, 1990), Philosophies of Arts: An Essay in Differences (Cambridge University Press, 1997), The Performance of Reading: an Essay in the Philosophy of Literature (Blackwell, 2006), Antithetical Arts: On the Ancient Quarrel Between Literature and Music (Oxford University Press, 2009), and Sounding Off: Eleven Essays in the Philosophy of Music (Oxford University Press, 2012).

Brian Leiter
University of Chicago

 “Normativity for Naturalists”
Friday, January 23, 2015
Memorial Building, Room 217
3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Reception following discussion!

Brian Leiter is the Karl N. Llewellyn Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the Center for Law, Philosophy & Human Values at the University of Chicago, where he teaches and writes about moral, political and legal philosophy in both the Anglophone and Continental European traditions.  He is the author of three books:  Nietzsche on Morality (Routledge, 2002; revised 2nd edition, 2015), Naturalizing Jurisprudence (Oxford, 2007), and Why Tolerate Religion? (Princeton, 2013), as well as more than six dozen articles in such journals as Ethics, Journal of the History of Philosophy, Law & Philosophy, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, and elsewhere.   He has also edited or co-edited many volumes, including The Future for Philosophy (Oxford, 2004) and The Oxford Handbook of Continental Philosophy (2007).  He is the founding editor of the Routledge Philosophers book series and the founding co-editor of Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Law.

Eric Schwitzgebel
University of California, Riverside

 “1% Skepticism”
Friday, December 5, 2014
Memorial Building, Room 318
3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Reception following discussion!

 Eric Schwitzgebel is Professor of Philosophy at U.C. Riverside.  Among his recent works are Perplexities of Consciousness (MIT Press, 2011), “A Dispositional Approach to the Attitudes” (New Essays on Belief, 2013), “The Crazyist Metaphysics of Mind” (Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 2014), “A Theory of Jerks” (Aeon Magazine, 2014), “The Moral Behavior of Ethicists and the Power of Reason” (Advances in Experimental Moral Psychology, 2014), “If Materialism Is True, the United States Is Probably Conscious” (Philosophical Studies, forthcoming), and “Experimental Evidence for the Existence of an External World” (with Alan T. Moore, Journal of the American Philosophical Association, forthcoming).

Dale Dorsey
University of Kansas

“Idealization & the Heart of Subjectivism”
Friday, October 31, 2014
Memorial Building, Room 318
3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Reception following discussion!

 Dale Dorsey is an associate professor and Meredith J. Docking Faculty Scholar in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Kansas, in Lawrence, Kansas. He received his degree from the University of California, San Diego, and works mainly in ethics.  His interests are in the history of that subject, especially the British Moralists, Hutcheson through Mill, and he has recently published a book called The Basic Minimum: A Welfarist Approach.

Dan Haybron
St. Louis University

“The Limited Abilities of the Capabilities Approach”
Monday, October 27, 2014
Memorial Building, Room 118
2:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Reception following discussion!

 Dan Haybron (St. Louis University) works in ethics, moral psychology, and political philosophy. Broadly speaking, he is interested in the connection between human nature and the good life. His research focuses mainly on the psychology of well-being and its connections with issues in ethical and political thought, as well as empirical research on well-being. His most recent book is Happiness: A Very Short Introduction, (Oxford University Press, 2013).

Branden Fitelson
Rutgers University

“Accuracy, Coherence & Evidence”
Friday, October 24, 2014
Memorial Building, Room 318
3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Reception following discussion!

Branden Fitelson is currently Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University and visiting Professor of Philosophy at the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) in Munich. Before teaching at Rutgers and LMU, he held teaching positions at UC-Berkeley, San José State, and Stanford. He got his MA and Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Before entering philosophy, he studied mathematic and physics at UW-Madison, and worked as a research scientist at Argonne National Lab and as a NASA contractor.

Nick Wiltsher
Federal University of Rio Grande Do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil

“What is it Like to be That”
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Allen Hall, Room 106
3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Reception following discussion!

 Can you imagine what it's like to be a bat? Probably not. Can you imagine what it's like to be someone else, some other person? Probably so. And in a variety of philosophical contexts, a wide-ranging ability to do so is often assumed. For example, one might think that an ability to imagine being someone else is important for moral education, or for the appreciation of fiction, or for grasping the existence of other minds. But there are reasons to doubt that the range of experiences we can imagine is as wide as commonly supposed. These reasons comprise possible corporeal, epistemological, and experiential constraints on the range of imaginable experiences, suggested by reflections on the relations between perception, imagination, and embodiment. The majority of this paper is devoted to exploring whether these possible constraints are plausible, and if so, whether they are problematic. I conclude with some suggestions towards a general account of the limits of our ability to imagine other experiences.

 Nick Wiltsher is a post-doctoral fellow in philosophy at the Federal University of Rio Grande Do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil. He was previously a lecturer at the University of Leeds (UK). His Ph.D. is from the University of Miami. He works on imagination, aesthetics, phenomenology, and feminist philosophy.

Matthias Schirn
University of Munich

“Logical Objects by Abstraction,
Referentiality & First-Order Domain”

Thursday, October 2, 2014
Allen Hall, Room 106
3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Reception following discussion!

Abstract: In this talk, I shall critically discuss some issues related to Frege’s notion of logical object and his paradigms of second-order abstraction principles: Hume’s Principle and especially Axiom V. The focus is on the referential indeterminacy of value-range terms, Frege’s attempt to remove it as well as on his subsequent proof of referentiality for his formal language. Special attention will be paid to the assumptions that underlie his overall strategy.

Matthias Schirn is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Munich, where he holds a Distinguished Fiebiger Professorship. His research interests are in the philosophy of logic and mathematics, proof theory, the philosophy of language, intensional semantics, epistemology and the philosophies of Kant, Frege, Hilbert, Russell and Wittgenstein. He also taught at the universities of Oxford (1976, 2014), Michigan State (1976-77), Cambridge (1977-78), Minnesota (1989), the State University of Campinas (1991), the National University of Buenos Aires (1992), the National Autonomous University of Mexico (1993, 1994, 1997), the Federal University of Ceará in Fortaleza (2003), the National University San Marcos in Lima (2009) and numerous other universities in Europe and Latin America. Since 2012 he is a member of the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy (LMU). He has published in Mind, Synthese, The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Erkenntnis, Dialectica, The Journal of Symbolic Logic, Reports on Mathematical Logic, History and Philosophy of Logic, Logique et Analyse, Axiomathes, Kantstudien, Theoria, Crítica, Manuscrito and other international journals.  He is currently preparing two books on Frege’s philosophy and his logic.

Allen Buchanan
Duke University

 “Limitations on Evolutionary Explanations of Morality (or Why Morality is Like Neither the Moth's Proboscis, the Peacock's tail, nor the Spotted Hyena's Clitoris)." co-authored Russell Powell"
Friday, September 26, 2014
Memorial Building, Room 118
3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Reception following discussion!

 Allen Buchanan is the James B. Duke Professor of Philosophy at Duke University. His research includes Bioethics (at present mainly on the ethics of enhancement and of synthetic biology), Philosophy of International Law, and Social Moral Epistemology. His recent papers are: (1) "Human Rights," in The Oxford Handbook of Political Philosophy, David Estlund, ed., 2013; (2) "Why International Legal Human Rights?", forthcoming in Foundations of Human Rights, edited by Matthew Liao and Massimo Renzo; (3) "Human Rights and Moral Progress," in Human Rights: The Hard Questions, edited by Cindy Holder and David Reidy, 2013; and (4) "Social Moral Epistemology and Education," forthcoming in a volume on the Philosophy of Education resulting from a Spencer Foundation conference, edited by Harry Brighouse.

Armando Cíntora
Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana, Mexico City

“The Koan of Pyrrhonism”
Friday, September 19, 2014
Memorial Building, Room 102
3:30 pm – 5:30 pm

Reception following discussion!

Armando Cíntora is Professor of Philosophy at the ‘Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana' in Mexico City. He earned his Ph.D. at the London School of Economics (under John Worrall). He is the author of The Irrational Presuppositions of Rationality (Anthropos, Barcelona, 2005), and many papers in journals and collections. He works primarily in philosophy of science and epistemology.

Susanna Schellenberg
Rutgers University

“The Particular Elements of Perceptual Experience”
Thursday, August 28, 2014
University Center, Room 206
3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Reception following discussion!

 When we perceive our environment, we are perceptually related to particulars in that environment. What kind of mental state are we in when we are perceptually related to a particular? Is the mental state individuated by the particular? For instance, if we want to think of the mental state as having content, should we think of this content as a singular proposition? I discuss different ways one might adjudicate these questions and explore ontological, epistemic, psychologistic, and semantic approaches to accounting for the particularity of perceptual experience.

Susanna Schellenberg's work focuses on a range of topics in epistemology, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of language. She is particularly interested in the nature of perceptual content, the epistemic role of perceptual experience, and mental capacities. She is also working on imagination, singular content, and space perception. Her publications include "Experience and Evidence", Mind; "Perceptual Content Defended", Noûs; "The Situation-Dependency of Perception", Journal of Philosophy; "Ontological Minimalism about Phenomenology", Philosophy and Phenomenological Research; “Belief and Desire in Imagination and Immersion”, Journal of Philosophy; "Action and Self-Location in Perception", Mind.