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Philosophy Colloquia

Agustin Rayo (MIT)

August 24, 3 p.m.
COOR Hall 4401

On the Open-Endedness of Logical Space

I argue that metaphysical possibility is open-ended: any given possibilities can be used to characterize further possibilities.


Don Fallis (Arizona)
October 26, 3 p.m.
Location: COOR Hall 4403

A Bayesian Epistemology of Deception

In order to address the threat to knowledge that deception poses, intelligence analysts (e.g., Whaley 1982 and Bell 2003) and cybersecurity experts (e.g., Rowe and Rrushi 2016) have identified various techniques that deceivers use, techniques such as masking, dazzling, mimicking, and decoying.  Epistemology (i.e., the study of knowledge) should be able to answer two questions about these techniques.  First, what epistemic effect do they have in common such that they all count as deception?  Second, how do their epistemic effects differ such that they count as distinct forms of deception?  In this talk, I show how Roderick Chisholm and Thomas Feehan's (1977) influential scheme for classifying types of deception can be used to answer these questions.  However, because their scheme utilizes a simple categorical belief model of cognitive states, it ultimately turns out to be too course-grained.  In this talk, I propose a Bayesian epistemology of deception, which represents cognitive states in terms of credences.  It allows us to understand what unifies and what distinguishes the various deception techniques that intelligence analysts and cybersecurity experts have identified.


Talia Bettcher (Cal State LA)
November 30, 3 p.m.
Location: COOR Hall 4401

What is Trans Philosophy?

Only recently has trans philosophy begun to have a distinctive presence within the profession. This change, due largely to a generational shift and an influx of young trans and genderqueer scholars, invites the question “What is trans philosophy?” I elaborate trans philosophy as a distinctive methodological approach that can raise questions about the pursuit of philosophy more generally. What does philosophy have to offer? Given that philosophy does not typically draw on data, what grounds a philosophical contribution? Are political considerations relevant to philosophical investigation and if so, how? 


Cara Nine (University College Cork)
January 18, 3 p.m.
Location: COOR Hall 4401

Territory as Moral Space and Political Obligations

  1. Political obligations to particular others can emerge from place. I call this place ‘territory as moral space’.
  2. These place-based political obligations are similar in normative force to the norms that construct state-based legal obligations.
  3. Place-based obligations and state-based legal obligations will often not agree on which persons are obliged by their sets of rules.
  4. I suggest that this should inform a new paradigm of flexibility and re-thinking of the nature of state territorial borders.


Joshua Glasgow
February 1, 3 p.m.
Location: COOR Hall 4403

Devaluing Importance

It is widely thought that we have good reasons to do important things with our lives, or to become important people.  These reasons go beyond impersonal considerations, such as the moral obligation one might have to cure a terrible illness, for example.  Being important is also thought to be something worth striving for out of self-interest; an especially significant life is something worth wanting for oneself.  Although this kind of judgment is widespread, and although it often makes brief appearances in philosophy, it has not received sustained, systematic examination.  And I will argue that it is mistaken: from the perspective of what's in our self-interest, we have no good reason to be important. In fact, being unimportant (while still mattering to a degree) comes with a valuable kind of liberation.


Jenann Ismael (Arizona)
February 15, 3 p.m.
Location: COOR Hall 4403

Title: TBA

Abstract: TBA