Philosophy Talks 2017-18
Spring 2018 Speaker Series
Amy Flowerree (Texas Tech University / University of Cologne)
Department Colloquium: Evidentialism in Action
Thursday, March 8th, 6:30-8:30 pm
Abstract: When our evidence suggests we should believe one thing, and our practical interests suggest another, what should we believe? Philosophers have taken this to be the question are there practical reasons for belief? Evidentialists argue that there cannot be any such reasons. Putative practical reasons for belief are not reasons for belief, but (to quote Pamela Hieronymi) reasons to manage our beliefs in a particular way. Pragmatists are not convinced. They accept that some (or perhaps all) reasons for belief are practical. According to the Pragmatist, there is a nontrivial way in which practical reasons could justify belief.
In this paper, I argue for three related theses: First, that we should reformulate the question as what reasons govern belief management? When we do, existing views are not adequate. Evidentialism is mute; Pragmatism incurs a heavy explanatory burden. Secondly, I develop an account of belief management, and characterize two forms that belief management might take: alethic and manipulative. Our original cases are asking whether manipulative belief management is rationally permissible (or required). Finally, I argue that the nature of practical reason itself gives us categorical (though potentially defeasible) reasons to engage in alethic belief management. Evidentialism, I conclude, percolates from action.
Fall 2017 Speaker Series
Andres Santa Maria (Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María, Santiago, Chile)
Department Colloquium: A philosopher among engineers: What am I doing here?
Friday, September 22nd, 4:00-6:00 pm
Abstract: This paper will address the problem of the role of the teaching of philosophy to students interested in Engineering careers. As a first approach to this problem, I will proceed to try its validation in the context of the so-called model of 'Competency-based learning', to claim that Philosophy is hardly justifiable as a mere instance for the development of 'soft skills'. However - and this is the main thesis of this work - the teaching of philosophy is no less relevant because of that. Indeed, far from being a merely complementary learning for engineering students, this is the area of knowledge that can best satisfy the need for a solid foundation of the work of the Engineer. Finally, a proposal is made about the contents that should be covered on in the subjects of philosophy for engineers, in order that the fundamental role of Philosophy is effectively understood as such by the students.
Arezoo Islami (Stanford University)
Public Colloquium: Is God a mathematician?
Thursday, October 5th, 6:30 - 8:30 pm
Holden Hall 076
Department Colloquium: A Match Not Made in Heaven: on the applicability of mathematics
Friday, October 6th, 4:00-6:00 pm
Hannah Ginsborg (UC Berkeley)
Public Colloquium: What beauty can tell us about knowledge: a Kantian perspective
Thursday, November 9th, 7:00 - 9:00 pm
Holden Hall 076
Abstract: Aesthetics is often considered a peripheral branch of philosophy, secondary to epistemology, metaphysics, and moral and political philosophy. But Kant's Critique of Judgment (1790) suggests that the understanding of aesthetic experience, and in particular of the experience of beauty, may be central for making sense of how knowledge is possible. This talk attempts to explain why.
Department Colloquium: What has the normativity of meaning to do with truth or warrant?
Friday, November 10th, 4:00-6:00 pm
Abstract:Recent debates about the normativity of meaning take their starting point from Kripke's claim, put forward as part of his 1982 interpretation of Wittgenstein's rule-following considerations, that the relation between meaning and use is normative. This claim has often been understood as amounting to the claim that meaningful expressions have conditions of correct use, where correctness is a matter of truth or warrant. I argue against this interpretation and propose an alternative understanding of Kripke's normativity thesis which draws on Wittgenstein's notion of knowing how to go on. As I understand Kripke's normativity thesis, meaning is normative not in the sense that it determines what uses are true or warranted, but rather in the sense that it determines which of the future uses of an expression conform to past uses of it. I will explain and support this interpretation of Kripke through examining some key passages in Wittgenstein, and I will conclude that, although the normativity thesis which Kripke draws from Wittgenstein is not defensible, Wittgenstein's own text points us towards a more plausible account of the normativity involved in the meaningful use of language.
Jonathan Drake (Texas Tech)
Department Colloquium: On Believing One's Reasons
Friday, December 1st, 4:00-6:00 pm
Abstract: It seems obvious that agents who act (or believe) for reasons must bear
cognitive connection to those reasons. It is widely thought that the specific cognitive
connection required is belief: in order for an agent to act for the reason that r, the agent
must (at least) believe that r. Call this the Belief View. A superficially similar view has
been put forth –– and gained significant favor –– about the ontology of reasons. This
view, often called Psychologism, holds that the reasons for which agents act are
psychological states of (or psychological facts about) those agents.
In this paper I demonstrate that there is a deep tension between these two commonly
held views, such that one cannot plausibly subscribe to both. I proceed to argue that the
best way to resolve this tension is to reject Psychologism. In so doing, I hope to be
offering a novel argument against this well received theory.