Abstracts

Overview

We have accepted twelve papers of graduate presenters:

Papers of Graduate Presenters

Stephen Wright(Sheffield)
Evidence and the Epistemology of Disagreement
[+/-]

Theories of disagreement dispute how we should respond when someone that we take to be our epistemic peer (someone who has all the same evidence as us and is equally good at processing it) disagrees with something that we believe. Specifically, they consider the question of whether or not discovering such disagreement makes us rationally obliged to be less confident in our original belief. One way of motivating your preferred theory of disagreement appeals to considerations about evidence. Suppose that there is a possibility that both you and I are maximally rational in responding to a particular body of evidence. It might seem to follow from this that finding out that we disagree means that we are not rationally obliged to be less confident in our original belief—if there’s a chance we’re both right, why should the fact that we disagree indicate that I’m wrong? I argue against the theory of disagreement that takes this approach. I argue firstly, that it does not follow immediately out of the claim about evidence and secondly, that it can be objected to on the grounds that prominently seem to call for the rejection of opposing theories.

Nathan Oseroff (UCL)
The Tu Quoque and the Theistic Stance
[+/-]

When choosing between conflicting theories of rationality a second-order problem arises: what standards should be adopted when choosing between conflicting theories of rationality? There are many different standards that, if accepted, permit one to adopt almost any theory of rationality one chooses. This may indicate that, as apologists such as Tillich and Barth argue, no theory of rationality is itself rationally defensible. Thus, one retort to the question of whether the theistic stance can be rationally adopted is, ‘According to which theory of rationality?’ Depending on the standard, it may be equally rational, more rational, or less rational than non-theistic stances to adopt the theistic stance, and the theist is free to choose whichever standard they desire. In this paper I focus on one standard, comprehensively critical rationalism, that may permit rationally adopting the theistic stance, explain why comprehensively critical rationalism differs significantly from the standard known as comprehensive rationalism, give a brief historical overview illustrating how comprehensively critical rationalism is compatible with the theistic stance, and elaborate on whether the theist ought to prefer comprehensively critical rationalism or comprehensive rationalism.

David Batho (Essex)
Heidegger, Hallucination and Solitary Confinement
[+/-]

Can Heidegger account for hallucination? I argue that he can. Drawing on some of Heidegger’s remarks made in conversation with Medard Boss, I argue that Heidegger makes three distinctive claims about hallucination: 1) to hallucinate is to fail to ‘realise’ the distinction between two modes of presence, namely: bodily present and present as absent; 2) to fail to ‘realise’ this distinction is a failure to appropriately comport oneself to that which is absent; 3) restrictions on one’s freedom of movement can undermine one’s ability to comport oneself appropriately to absences. The first two claims provide an account of what hallucination is while the third suggests a possible explanation for its occurrence. Furthermore, I argue that Heidegger’s account of hallucination as developed on the basis of these three claims is plausible and cite empirical evidence from studies into hallucination in solitary confinement as support.

Magdalena Antrobus (Birmingham)
Cognitive Benefits in Manic Depressive Illness
[+/-]

This paper contemplates the possible existence of positive characteristics in Manic Depressive Illness (Bipolar Disorder / MD). Being one of the most acute mental diseases of our times, MD is associated with numerous deficits that span the everyday lives of people who suffer from the illness, including but not limited to memory, attention and learning. Surprisingly at the time of this paper there has been nearly no research published in respect of examining the cognitive traits of the illness, which could be viewed as positive or beneficial in any way. Considering the important gap in the literature, this paper inspects and helps to understand the role of five of the main positive factors: realism, empathy, spirituality, resilience and creativity. It is concluded that these qualities can constitute a significant beneficence in the outcome of Manic Depressive Illness and in the long term can contribute towards the strength of one’s character. It is argued here that, in this particular sense, Bipolar Disorder can be a valid part of human personal growth.

Joshua Luczak (Western Ontario)
Toy Models: What They Are, What They Are Not, and What They Are Good Fo
[+/-]

Scientific
models
are
frequently
discussed
in
philosophy
of
science.
A
great
deal
 of
the
discussion
is
centred
on
idealisation
and
approximation.
Toy
models
are
 unlike
idealisations
and
approximations.
It
is
not
central
to
these
models
that
 they
represent
some
actual
(target)
system.
They
can
teach
us
things
about
 actual
systems
without
themselves
representing
any
real
system.
They
feature
in
 explanations
and
aid
the
construction
of
sophisticated
theories.
Despite
the
 importance,
distinct
nature,
and
widespread
use
of
toy
models
in
physics,
they
 have
received
little
attention
from
philosophers.
This
presentation
attempts
to
 remedy
this
situation.
It
aims
to
elevate
the
status
of
toy
models
by
distancing
 them
from
other
models
and
by
elaborating
on
some
of
the
ways
a
particular
toy
 model
is
used
in
statistical
mechanics:
the
Kac
ring.



Max Jones (Cambridge)
Number Concepts and Concept Empiricism
[+/-]

Machery [2007, 37-8] and Dove [2009, 423-5] both argue that recent findings about the nature of numerical representation present problems for Concept Empiricism (CE). I shall argue that, whilst this evidence does challenge certain versions of CE, such as Prinz [2002], it needn’t be seen as problematic to the general CE approach. Recent research can arguably be seen to support a CE account of number concepts. Neurological and behavioural evidence suggests that systems involved in the perception of number are also implicated in numerical cognition. Furthermore, the discovery of associations between spatial and numerical representations also lends support to a CE approach. Although these findings support CE in general, certain versions of the theory may need revising in order to accommodate them. In particular, it may be necessary to either jettison the Modal Specificity Hypothesis [Prinz, 2002, 119] or to revise one’s method for individuating sensory modalities.

Adam Andrzejewski & Marta Zareba (Warsaw)
The Ontology of Theatrical Script
[+/-]

The main goal of the paper is to shed light on the ontological nature of a theatrical script. This issue is, surprisingly, a rare subject of analyses in the field of the contemporary analytic philosophy of theatre. In the paper we formulate the modal dependency argument which is designed to show that such an oversight obscures the real relationship between a literary work and a theatrical performance based on this work. In particular, the argument underlines the causal differences between literary works and theatrical scripts. Thus, it is revealed that the very relationship between theatrical performances and literary works is, in fact, substantiated by means of carrying out the script which is understood as a set of instructions.

Matt Leonard (Southern California)
Locating Gunky Water and Wine
[+/-]

Can material objects be weakly located at regions of spacetime and yet fail to be exactly located anywhere? In this paper, I discuss a case which, at least according to one interpretation, answers affirmatively: the case of blending gunky water and wine, in gunky space. Perhaps after such a blend, the water and wine aren't exactly located anywhere while being weakly located both at the location of the blend and all of its subregions. I show that the case is interesting and complicated, and has consequences for some ideas found in papers by Daniel Nolan and Josh Parsons

Peter Fritz & Jeremy Goodman (Oxford)
Counting Incompossibles
[+/-]

We often speak as if there are merely possible people. For example, we might say that most possible people don't exist, since they are never born. Yet most philosophers deny that anything is both possibly a person and never born. Unless they are prepared to reject talk of merely possible people as unintelligible, such philosophers need a way to paraphrasing it. We first show that such paraphrases are unavailable if we limit ourselves to the expressive resources of (even highly infinitary) first-order modal languages. We then show that such paraphrases are available in higher-order modal languages, on the assumption that every possible individual necessarily has a haecceity -- a property that necessarily applies to it if it exists and necessarily applies to nothing else. We conclude that it is necessary what haecceities there are.

Cristobal Zarzar (King's College London)
Going along with appearances: Pyrrhonism as a Zetetic and Suspensive Persuasion
[+/-]

In his ΠυρρώνειοιὙποτυπώσεις Sextus Empiricus describes Pyrrhonism as both an ongoing quest for truth and a pursuit of suspension of judgement (ἐποχή) as a means to tranquillity (ἀταραξία). In this paper I address the question of whether the Pyrrhonian Sceptic can genuinely aim at truth while pursuing suspension of belief. I contend that searching for truth is compatible with aiming at ἐποχή, for the only possible way in which the Sceptic can withhold belief is actually by pursuing truth. In order to support this claim, first, I argue that since suspension of judgement depends on equipollence (ἰσοσθένεια), and given that equipollence is not under the control of the Sceptic, ἐποχή does not constitute an epistemic bias that precludes the possibility of discovering truth. Secondly, I argue that the Sceptic suspends judgement out of psychological compulsion and not because she aims at satisfying certain rational requirement, as has been proposed. Thirdly, by appealing to Sextus’ distinction between doxastic and non-doxastic acceptance of appearances, I offer a plausible explanation of how the Sceptic can live in accordance with such a rational requirement without holding beliefs, i.e. without undermining the philosophical outlook of Scepticism.

Ryan Jenkins (Colorado, Boulder)
Rule-consequentialism and Two Forms of Moral Relativism
[+/-]

According to Brad Hooker’s rule-consequentialism, actions are right if they are consistent with an “ideal code” of rules which, if internalized by everyone, would maximize expected wellbeing (§1). Hooker recognizes that a moral code including conditional rules that reference group membership—so that, for example, the rich and poor are under different obligations to donate to charity—would have higher expected consequences than one with universal imperative rules. This leads to a kind of de facto moral relativism in society’s patterns of behavior. I argue that embracing actual moral relativism would do even more to increase expected consequences and hence rule-consequentialists have good reason to be moral relativists (§2). Hooker resists this move, but his arguments are unconvincing (§3). Moreover, his resistance is especially strange given his embrace of diachronic moral relativism, the view that our moral obligations can change over time (§4). Hooker’s position therefore appears untenable (§5).

Meredith L McFadden (California, Riverside)
Explanation, Justification and the Guise of the Good
[+/-]

Explanation, Justification, and the Guise of the Good The guise of the good thesis states that in seeing a reason to pursue an end, an agent necessarily sees the end as good in some way. In this paper, I outline two versions of a broad strategy for rejecting this thesis. The strategy, which I call the explanation strategy, rejects the thesis on the grounds that in seeing a reason to pursue one’s end, one need only see that end as intelligible, rather than good. I suggest that while Kieran Setiya and David Velleman both employ (problematic) versions of the explanation strategy, they posit importantly different views on the relationship between justificatory reasons and explanatory reasons. I argue that by considering how and why these views diverge, we can identify the desiderata for a successful version of the explanation strategy, one that will capture a plausible relationship between intelligibility, justification, and value in reasoning.