Philosophy Colloquia

Events

Spring 2023

Pekka Vayrynen University of Leeds
January 18, 2023
3-5 p.m. 
Coor Hall 4403

Title: Normative Explanatory Pluralism

Abstract: Some theorists of normative explanation argue that we can make sense of debates between first-order moral theories such as consequentialism and its rivals only if we understand their explanations of why the right acts are right and the wrong acts are wrong as grounding explanations. Others argue that the standard form of normative explanation is, instead, unifying generalization. Neither sort of explanatory monism can account for all the explanations that first-order normative theorists actually seek to state and defend. I argue that we can do better if we accept normative explanatory pluralism, the view that one and the same normative explanandum can have more than one type of correct complete explanation.


Vida Yao Rice University
February 3, 2023
3-5 p.m. 
Coor Hall 4403

Title: Who I Am With You

Abstract: It is a commonplace thought that the giving of private information about oneself can secure or perhaps even constitute interpersonal intimacy between the giver and receiver of such information. Within the philosophical literature, both historical and contemporary, this basic idea is typically taken to be so obvious as to not be worth much attention or defense. Others, however, have raised doubts about the close relationship between exchanges of private information and interpersonal intimacy. Such skeptical doubts encourage a closer examination of what the activity of self-disclosure can consist in, what its relationship to interpersonal intimacy is, and what the nature of the intimacy it can sometimes achieve is. Standard understandings of this activity, I will argue, do not capture the ways in which a person can, through sharing something “private” about herself with another, not just reveal that fact about herself, but come to acknowledge that fact about herself. Thus, it is possible through such exchanges not just that two people feel closer to one another, but that they become intimate with one another in the very specific sense that their selves or self-conceptions become partially integrated with one another. This intimacy between the person telling and the person told comes to exist not fundamentally because the teller simply reveals herself to the told, but because, as I’ll describe, the told may reveal the teller to herself, and thereby partly constitute who she now acknowledges she is.


Rosa Cao Stanford University
February 24, 2023
3-5 p.m. 
Coor Hall 4403

Title: Do swampmodels have inner representations? 

Abstract: Neural network models have come to play a significant role in neuroscience, as well as, more recently, in our broader cultural life.  These models produce increasingly sophisticated behaviors that call out for explanation: from classifying novel images to manipulating language in ways that we find meaningful. Are these systems promising models of how the brain enables human vision and language?  Or are they doing something completely different from us on the inside?  In humans we take sophisticated behavioral capacities to require internal representations -- but on what basis can we assess whether neural network models have internal representations at all? To address these questions, I'll introduce a synchronic notion of function that highlights similarities between evolution by natural selection and the processes by which these systems are produced. The goal is to find a unified way of looking for representational content in humans, animals and machines.


Branden Fitelson Northeastern University
March 3, 2023
3-5 p.m. 
Coor Hall 4403

Title: Bayesianism & Explanationism 

Abstract: In the recent literature, two opposing ways of thinking about the relationship between Explanationism and Bayesianism have emerged. On one side are authors including van Fraassen and Douven who have tried to accommodate Explanationist intuitions via revisions of the fundamental structural Bayesian requirements of rationality. On the other side are authors including Roche & Sober and Lange who have proposed that Bayesians should understand Explanationism in substantive, confirmation-theoretic terms. I will begin by explaining the difference between structural vs substantive Bayesian rationality. Then, using this distinction, I will discuss the two opposing ways of reconciling Explanationism & Bayesianism. In the end, I will side with those who take Explanationism to be a substantive -- rather than a structural -- Bayesian constraint. I will also explain why I disagree with the skeptical arguments of Roche & Sober regarding the prospects of reconciling Explanationism and Bayesianism.


Rima Basu 
March 24, 2023
3-5 p.m. 
Coor Hall 4403

Title: TBA
Abstract: TBA
 

Aubrial Harrington (Grad student talk)
March 31, 2023
3-5 p.m.
Coor Hall 4403

Title: TBA
Abstract: TBA


Michael White 
April 14, 2023
3-5 p.m. 
Coor Hall 4403

Title: TBA
Abstract: TBA
 

Bryan Lietz (Grad student talk)
April 21, 2023
3-5pm
Coor Hall 4403

Title: TBA
Abstract: TBA

Fall 2022

Darrel Moellendorf Goethe-Universität-Frankfurt am Main
Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022
Noon-1:30 p.m.
Coor Hall 4403

Title: Hope in the Time of Climate Change

Talk sponsored by Philosophy Faculty, SHPRS, Environmental Humanities Initiative, GFL

Andreas De Block Ku Leuven
Kristien Hens University of Antwerp
Friday, Sept. 23, 2022
3-5 p.m.
Coor Hall 4403

Title: "Causes or Cures: What makes attention issues (real) disorders? Results of a Study in Experimental Philosophy of Medicine." 

Alex Jackson Boise State
Friday, Oct. 14, 2022
3-5 p.m.
Coor Hall 4403

Title: The Fundamental Facts Can Be Logically Simple

Gil Hersch Department of Philosophy and Kellogg Center for Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, Virginia Tech
Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022
11 a.m.
Coor Hall 4581

Title of talk: On Hardships and Expectations

Abstract: Imagine you are an athlete training for an upcoming competition by lifting weights, a musician practicing a piece for an upcoming concert, or a philosopher burning the midnight oil working on a book manuscript. Perhaps, in all of these cases, your life is going badly. At the moment, your well-being seems low because you’re engaged in difficult, strenuous, time-consuming tasks. Your activity still has expected prudential value, since you hope these tasks will pay off in the future. But it seems that you are sacrificing your well-being now for the sake of later gains. That is one way to think about it. But often we do not judge our lives in this way. Often, we look back at period of training, practice, or sacrifice, and say that these were good times, even though they were difficult. Many of us think that we benefit not just from the reaping, but from the sowing, too.

If we judge that these difficult times in our life are good for us, this seems to create a problem for those who, like us, defend a momentary conception of well-being as opposed to lifetime or episodic conceptions of well-being. In this paper we solve this puzzle by appealing to the concept of expectational momentary well-being, which is a component of momentary well-being that offers a way of integrating the expected value of future success during the moment in which we are undergoing the hardships necessary to achieve them.

Jeanine Weekes Schroer University of Minnesota Duluth 
Friday, Oct. 21, 2022
3-5 p.m.
Zoom only
Email pinillos@asu.edu for Zoom address

Title: Critical Race Theory Is Coming to Get You! Making a Steel Man Out of Anti-CRT Sentiment

Abstract: From a certain perspective, it is easy to dismissAnti-Critical Race Theory (CRT) arguments.  They often seem to not understand what CRT is and even more frequently (at least in the public discourse) are given in bad faith.  While accurate, these criticisms don’t effectively penetrate anti-CRT sentiments.  This paper aims to shift perspective and imagine good faith concerns lurking in anti-CRT sentiments. “Steelmanning” anti-CRT arguments is not simply a rehearsal of a long-cherished principle of good critical thinking (charity): aspects of CRT have permeated and are altering our culture in ways that require a reckoning. The steelmanned anti-CRT argument developed here highlights the value of steelimanning as a tool, while identifying a real concern for the project of addressing racism in the US. 
 
Karen Stohr Georgetown, Political Philosophy
Friday, Nov. 4, 2022
3-5 p.m.
Coor Hall 4403

Title: How Not to Value Your Ends: Smugness as a Kantian Vice

Abstract: Smug people are annoying. In this paper, I argue that smug people are also exhibiting a vice. I employ Kant’s account of vice to explain what smugness is and what makes it morally objectionable. To be smug, I argue, is to place incorrect value on yourself as a setter of ends. It is thus an expression of self-conceit. I distinguish smugness from the nearby vice of arrogance, as well as from appropriate self-respect. 

Spring 2022

Nathan Ballantyne Fordham University
Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022
3 p.m.
Coor Hall 4403 or Zoom 

Title: Do Your Own Research
 

Jake Nebel University of Southern California
Friday, Jan. 21, 2022
3 p.m.

Title: The Sum of Well-Being
Abstract: Philosophers sometimes use numbers to represent how good things are for people. The sum of these numbers is often said to represent a sum of well-being. I want to understand what, if anything, this means. There are sums of masses and of lengths, but not of beauty or of times. Why should we think that there are sums of well-being? In this talk I explain what it would take for well-being to be the kind of quantity that can be summed across individuals, and explore some ways of showing well-being to be that kind of quantity.

Erin Beeghly University of Utah POSTPONED
Friday, February 11, 2022

Title: TBA
Abstract: TBA

Jonathan Ichikawa University of British Columbia
Friday, March 18, 2022
3 p.m.

Title: Obligations to Believe

Abstract: Epistemologists focus a lot on negative epistemic norms, which prohibit belief in particular circumstances. We should pay more attention than we do, I’ll argue, to positive epistemic norms, according to which it is an epistemic error in some cases not to believe. Epistemologists sometimes acknowledge the existence of such norms — often following William James — but most tend to underemphasise them. Some epistemologists have gone so far as to argue that there can be no positive epistemic norms. I’ll respond to those arguments, affirming and articulating an approach to epistemic duties to believe. I think the emphasis on the negative represents an undue bias in epistemology, against belief, and towards the skeptical. I’ll also argue that this bias is tied up with conservative political instincts and deference to the status quo.

Tayler Burge UCLA
Saturday, March 26, 2022
Memorial Union, Arizona Ballroom (Room 221), ASU Tempe Campus

Title: A Map of the Lower Representational Mind

Abstract: TBA

Erin Beeghly University of Utah
Friday, April 8, 2022
3 p.m.
Coor Hall 4403

Title: Prejudice and the Problem of Statistical Stereotyping

Abstract: This talk uses the lived experiences and work of AIDS activists in the U.S. during the 1980s and 1990s as a launching pad to explore what’s wrong with stereotyping. I begin with an observation. Activists often cited prejudice to explain why it was morally wrong to stereotype people with AIDS. Then I introduce a well-known problem with prejudice-focused explanations: not all wrongful stereotyping seems to be caused by prejudice. Statistical stereotyping is a prime example. When people engage in statistical stereotyping, they do so based on statistical information, not hateful, irrational beliefs about groups. Much of the talk is devoted to showing that prejudice can play a crucial causal role in morally wrongful statistical stereotyping—or wrongful statistical discrimination, for that matter—despite appearances otherwise. I argue that this result shows two things: (1) prejudice is far more epistemically insidious than meets the eye and (2) theorists should not summarily dismiss the explanatory power of prejudice simply because it appears to be absent in salient cases. I end by returning to activists’ thoughts on the matter and, drawing them out, sketch a pluralistic theory of morally wrongful stereotyping in which prejudice plays a role. 

Fall 2021

David Livingstone Smith  University of New England
Friday, Sept. 17, 2021
3 p.m. 
Zoom

Title: Dehumanization, Gender, and the Folk-Metaphysics of Race

Abstract: There is an intimate connection between dehumanization and racialization. Although groups can be racialized without being dehumanized, dehumanized groups are almost always racialized. To understand why this is, it's necessary to unpack the folk-metaphysics of race and its relationship to certain underlying psychological dispositions. In this talk, I'll explore two crucial components of racialization and dehumanization--psychological essentialism and hierarchical thinking--and then go on to discuss why the most dangerous form of dehumanization, demonizing dehumanization, is highly gendered.

Allison Aitken Columbia University
Friday, Oct. 15, 2021
3 p.m.
Zoom

Title: A Case against Simple-mindedness: Śrīgupta on Mental Mereology

Abstract: There's a common line of reasoning which supposes that the phenomenal unity of conscious experience is grounded in a mind-like simple subject. To the contrary, Mādhyamika Buddhist philosophers beginning with Śrīgupta (seventh-eighth century) argue that any kind of mental simple is incoherent and thus metaphysically impossible. Lacking any unifying principle, the phenomenal unity of conscious experience is instead an ungrounded illusion. In this paper, I present an analysis of Śrīgupta’s “neither-one-nor-many argument” against mental simples and show how his line of reasoning is driven by a set of implicit questions concerning the nature of and relation between consciousness and its intentional object. These questions not only set the agenda for centuries of intra-Buddhist debate on the topic, but they are also questions to which any defender of unified consciousness or a simple subject of experience arguably owes responses.

Sarah Moss University of Michigan
Friday, Oct. 29, 2021
3 p.m.
Zoom

Title: A Contextualist Reframing of Encroachment

Abstract: This talk defends a contextualist theory of ‘knowledge’ ascriptions. I argue that in some sentences, the implicit argument of ‘knows’ is bound by a quantifier. The natural readings of these sentences can be generated by contextualist theories, but not by competing interest-relative theories of knowledge. In addition, I argue that the contextualist can explain distinctive patterns in our judgments about sentences in which 'knows' is embedded under change-of-state verbs. Along the way, I argue that the most common definitions of ‘encroachment’ and ‘interest relativity’ are seriously flawed.

Juan Comesana University of Arizona
Friday, Nov. 19, 2021
3 p.m.
Coor Hall 4403

Title: Revisiting the argument from illusion

Abstract: Philosophers like Descartes, Russell, and Ayer used the argument from illusion to conclude that in perception we are directly aware of inner objects, and at best indirectly aware of external objects. Many have objected to that use of the argument by claiming that it illegitimately draws a metaphysical conclusion from epistemic starting points, and that just because, in the bad case, we are wrong about external objects, that does not mean that we are right about internal ones.

The argument from illusion can also be used to draw a purely epistemic conclusion: that in both the good and the bad case we are justified in believing the same propositions (this new use of the argument from illusion forms the basis of Stew Cohen’s “new evil demon problem” for Reliabilism). Some followers of Williamson’s program of knowledge-first epistemology have objected to this new argument from illusion. In this talk I want to consider that objection. My conclusion will be that we have not been given good reasons to reject the conclusion that in both the good and the bad case we are justified in believing the same propositions.