Logic, Epistemology and Metaphysics Forum programme 2015-16

Tuesday 29 September 2015

LEM - Logic, Epistemology & Metaphysics Forum

2015-16 Programme


Tuesday 27/10, 17:30- 19:30 - Room 246 Senate House

Florian Steinberger (Birkbeck College, University of London)

Title: What it might mean for logic to be normative

Abstract: Logic, the tradition has it, is normative for reasoning. Famously, the tradition was challenged by Gilbert Harman who argued that there is no interesting general link between ‘facts’ about logical consequence and norms of belief formation and revision. A number of authors (e.g. John MacFarlane and Hartry Field) have sought to rehabilitate the traditional view of the normative status of logic against Harman. In this paper, I argue that the debate as a whole is marred by a failure of the disputing parties to distinguish three different types of normative assessment, and hence three distinct ways in which question of the normativity of logic might be understood. I show that as a result of their failure to appreciate this three-fold distinction, the participants in the debate have, to some extent, been talking past one another. Finally, I assess the prospects of the thesis of the normativity of logic thus disambiguated.

Tuesday 10/11, 17:30- 19:30 - Room 243 Senate House

Heather Logue (University of Leeds)

Title: World in Mind

Abstract. I will begin by sketching a view according to which perceptual phenomenal character is ‘extended’, in the sense of literally incorporating mind-independent entities in the subject’s environment (a view also known as Naive Realism or the Relational View). I will then argue that this metaphysical thesis about perceptual phenomenal character affords a novel version of epistemological disjunctivism, which is the view that a veridically perceiving subject is in a better epistemic position than a counterpart suffering an indistinguishable illusion or hallucination. I will conclude by comparing this view with other versions of epistemological disjunctivism, and I will suggest that the one I've offered comes as close as we possibly can to convincing the external world sceptic.

Tuesday 24/11, 17:30- 19:30 - Room 243 Senate House

Nils Kurbis (King’s College, University of London)

Title: Negation, Incompatibility, differences and numbers

Abstract. This paper considers whether Incompatibilism, the view that negation has to be explained in terms of a primitive notion of incompatibility, and Fregeanism, the view that arithmetical truths are analytic according to Frege's definition of that term in paragraph 3 of Foundations of Arithmetic, can both be upheld simultaneously. Both views are attractive on their own right, in particular from a certain empiricist mind-set. They promise to account for two philosophical puzzling phenomena: the problem of negative truth and the problem of epistemic access to numbers. For an incompatibilist, the proof of, for instance, numerical non-identities must appeal to primitive incompatibilities. I argue that no analytic primitive incompatibilities are forthcoming. Hence incompatibilists cannot be Fregeans.

Tuesday 8/12, 17:30- 19:30 - Room 234 Senate House

Jonas Åkerman (University of Stockholm).

Title: Speaker meaning without intention

Abstract. Several philosophers take the notion of speaker meaning to be fundamental in the sense that it is what ultimately determines the meaning or reference of an expression as used by a speaker on a certain occasion. A common accusation against views of this kind is that they lead to a Humpty Dumpty theory of meaning or reference. A standard way of replying to this is to invoke a broadly Gricean framework, according to which speaker meaning requires the presence of a certain kind of communicative or referential intention, which is constrained in a way that excludes the possibility of ascribing it to the speaker in Humpty Dumpty cases. I argue that the requirement that an intention of this kind be present in all genuine cases of speaker meaning is problematic in two ways. First, on closer scrutiny, it turns out that it is not really supported by (the core ideas of) the broadly Gricean framework. Second, there are intuitive cases of speaker meaning that are ruled out by this requirement, along with the Humpty Dumpty cases. On the basis of these observations, I argue for a subtle but yet important modification of the (broadly Gricean) notion of speaker meaning, with the result that ascription of speaker meaning does not require ascription of any genuine intention to communicate or refer. While this is of general interest in its own right, since understanding the notion of speaker meaning is important for the project of giving an overall account of (linguistic) communication, it is also of specific interest to the Humpty Dumpty accusation, since it undermines the standard reply to it. But rather than taking this as a reason for resisting the modification I suggest, it should prompt proponents of the idea that speaker meaning is fundamental (in the abovementioned sense) to search for alternative ways of dealing with this objection. I end by offering some general suggestions as to what form such an alternative reply might take.


2/2: Thomas Crowther (University of Warwick)

12/2: Helen Beebee (University of Manchester)

1/3: Nat Hansen (University of Reading)

12/4: Thomas Kroedel (Humbolt University, Berlin)


3/5: Jack Woods (Bilkent University, Ankara)

17/5: Gil Sagi (Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich)

31/5: John Divers (University of Leeds)

14/6: Paniel Osberto Reyes Cárdenas (Autonomous University of Puebla State (UPAEP), Mexico)

Titles, abstracts and room numbers will be released closer to each seminar date on the Institute of Philosophy event's calendar. Unless stated, talks begin at 5.30pm, 2nd floor, Senate House, Malet St., WC1. For further information contact Corine Besson, Director of CeLL.