Programme for Michaelmas 2015

We'll meet Wednesdays 13:00-14:00 in the Radcliffe Humanities Building, Colin Matthew Room (except for weeks 6 and 7 when the meetings will be in the Lecture Room).

Week 1
14 October
Benjamin Lange (LMH)
Restricted Prioritarianism or Competing Claims?
I here settle a recent dispute between two rival theories in distributive ethics: Restricted Prioritarianism and the Competing Claims View. Both views mandate that the distribution of benefits and burdens between individuals should be justifiable to each affected party in a way that depends on the strength of each individual’s separately assessed claim to receive a benefit. However, they disagree about what elements constitute the strength of those individuals’ claims. According to restricted prioritarianism, the strength of a claim is determined in ‘prioritarian’ fashion by both what she stands to gain and her absolute level of well-being, while, according to the competing claims view, the strength of a claim is also partly determined by her level of well-being relative to others with conflicting interests. I argue that, suitably modified, the competing claims view is more plausible than restricted prioritarianism.
Week 2
21 October
Benjamin Brast-McKie (St Cross)
Neo-Actualist Ideology
This paper presents a real definition of what it is to be a non-actual object, defending this account against a number of objections. I will begin by arguing that the necessitist ideology of contingent non-concreteness fails to adequately capture our pre-theoretic intuitions about what is non-actual, resulting in a broad error theory. After presenting and defending a real definition for non-actuality, I will conclude by showing how an ideology of non-actuality (appropriately defined) helps to clarify the necessitist’s position.
Week 3
28 October
Matthew McMillan (St Catherine's)
Minds and mirror symmetry: a transcendental argument that our brains are not mirror-symmetric
Week 4
4 November
Christopher Fowles (Queen's)
Nietzsche on cognition and consciousness
Week 5
11 November
Martin Lesourd (St Anne’s)
Role Reversal in String Theory: how the tail wags the dog
Week 6
18 November
Michael Plant (St Cross)
This week the talk will be in the Radcliffe Humanities Lecture Room!
Week 7
25 November
Niels Martens (Magdalen)
Eliminating mass from Newtonian Gravity
Motivated by a desire for ontological parsimony, or a more general (logical) empiricist framework, one might be tempted to reduce mass - as it features in Newtonian Gravity - to observable, kinematical notions, such as acceleration. I discuss several such historical attempts, starting of course with Ernst Mach, and provide a novel argument against reducing mass to accelerations (and distances).
This week the talk will be in the Radcliffe Humanities Lecture Room!
Week 8
2 December
Wim Vanrie (St Anne’s)
Are There Complex Names in the Tractatus?
In proposition 5.02 of the Tractatus, Wittgenstein distinguishes between indexical and functional complexity of signs. In this paper, I argue, against a claim made by Cora Diamond, that there are no functionally complex names according to the theory of the Tractatus. First, I argue that, contrary to what Diamond seems to think, nothing in 5.02 implies an acknowledgement of complex names. I then proceed to give some arguments, based on the Tractatus as a whole, why there are indeed no complex names in the Tractatus. I end by considering objections.