previous day
next day
all days

View: session overviewtalk overview

09:00-12:30 Session S10: Philosophy of Language 1
Location: BUCH D317
The role of a substantivist theory of truth in philosophical inquiry
DISCUSSANT: Julia Minarik

ABSTRACT. Deflationism about truth, despite its popularity, has two troubling consequences for philosophical inquiry. If deflationism were true, then (1) whenever we are able to explicitly formulate our questions, there would be no benefit from semantic ascent, and (2) pursuing metasemantic accounts of our representations would be misguided. Drawing on an example from Timothy Williamson, I aim to cast doubt on both of these consequences. My argument will display a certain role for the concept of truth in philosophical inquiry, which is incompatible with deflationism, and provides reason to prefer a substantivist account of truth.

The Paderewski identity
DISCUSSANT: Lewis Powell

ABSTRACT. Abstract The need to solve certain puzzles about belief have led Millians to move closer to a Fregean view by postulating sense-like entities, often called “guises,” that are modes of presentation of Millian propositions. I argue that no such Fregean adulteration of the purity of Millianism is necessary in order to solve three Kripkean Paderewski puzzles. Unadulterated Millianism — Millianism sans guises — can solve the puzzles.

Instrumentalism about Unstructured Propositions

ABSTRACT. Stephen Schiffer argues that propositions are pleonastic entities - entities whose existence is secured via something-from-nothing transformations. Schiffer’s account provides an alternative to two central views: structured propositions exist in some robust metaphysical sense, and the denial that propositions exist at all. I will argue that the issues motivating Schiffer’s rejection of the latter view are alleviated by adopting instrumentalism about propositions. Moreover, I will show how instrumentalism avoids pressing criticisms of Schiffer’s account. I will conclude that if you want to avoid a robust metaphysical account that treats propositions as structured entities, you should adopt instrumentalism over pleonasticism.

09:00-12:30 Session S12: Social/Political Philosophy 1
Location: BUCH D229
Refugees, Fairness, and Non-Compliance
DISCUSSANT: Malcolm Murray

ABSTRACT. There is a duty to resettle refugees that is held collectively by all capable states. Unfortunately, some states default on this duty. This essay considers what justice demands of the remaining duty-bearers in this partial-compliance scenario. I contend that while the remaining states do have a duty to “take up the slack” and resettle additional refugees, it must be reconciled with the presence of unfairness between the slack-takers and the non-compliers. Following this, I argue that given the nature of refugee resettlement, reconciliation requires balancing the demands of the duty with the value of fairness by reducing the duty's stringency.

The Democratic Character of Sortition
DISCUSSANT: Nicholas Dunn

ABSTRACT. Are legislatures with randomly selected members democratic? Unlike elected legislators, randomly selected legislators are not accountable to anyone but themselves for how they vote. This article makes the case that like elected legislatures, randomly selected legislatures are both democratic and representative in the relevant sense. I analyze Pitkin’s concept of representation and find that it entails that randomly selected legislatures are representative, and argue that amending that concept to require that representatives be authorized by those they represent would be a mistake, because it commits us to an unsupportable claim about the nature of political obligation.

Rethinking the Paradox of State Sovereignty with a Dignity-Based Account of International Law
DISCUSSANT: Stefan Sciaraffa

ABSTRACT. Most international lawyers have long-since left behind international law’s existential question (whether international law is ‘law,’ properly so called). Unfortunately, this has led scholars, lawyers, and international institutions themselves to accept consent-based views of international law by default. What makes international law ‘law’ is the State consent, full stop. In this paper, I argue the received view of international law not only fails to explain many features of international law (such as jus cogens norms), but it fails to resolve the problem that made consent-based views attractive in the first place: namely, it fails resolve the paradox of state sovereignty.

09:00-12:30 Session S13: Canadian Society for Christian Philosophy
Location: BUCH D304
The Necessity of an Operationally Independent Spiritual Element in Human Nature for the Beatific Vision: A Response to Anthropological Physicalism
William Alston's Account of Disagreement in Mystical Perceptual Beliefs: Two Problems and New Solutions
Epistemic Permissivism and Pascal’s Wager
09:00-12:30 Session S2: Confusion of Tongues: Finlay Book Symposium

Confusion of Tongues: Finlay Book Symposium

Although it is often taken as established that value laden terms like 'good', 'ought' and 'reason' cannot be analyzed in non-normative terms, this claim is opposed by Stephan Finlay in his book Confusion of Tongues: A Theory of Normative Language. Finlay maintains, controversially, that prescribing and evaluating are acts that utterers can perform in making factual statements. The idea that there is a separate or nonfactual realm of value is (he thinks) due in part to the fallacy of trying to build certain pragmatic functions of language use into the semantics of words like 'good' and 'ought'. Normative moral statements not only convey substantive factual content but are often true, contrary to what moral error theorists and fictionalists claim.

Roughly speaking, for something to be good is for it to make some salient end more probable, and one ought to do what conduces to the likelihood of such an end. As for final goods, rather than it being the case that final goodness belongs to fundamental goods that enjoy a prior and non-relational form of value, it turns out that final goods too are valuable in virtue of relations. Imperatives (including moral imperatives) that might appear to be semantically of an irreducibly categorical form are actually embedded in contexts where the relevant ends are somehow implicit.

One might be tempted to characterize Finlay's end-relational view as an instrumentalist theory, but Finlay argues plausibly that it isn't strictly instrumentalist. Nor does the theory make the truth of normative statements depend on an agent's desires and preferences, so it isn't in a narrow sense Humean.

Location: BUCH D221
09:00-12:30 Session S3: Environmental Philosophy (with CSEP)

Environmental Philosophy (with CSEP)

Location: BUCH D313
This is Not a Pipe(line): Pluralism and Challenges to Epsitemic Trust
Working with nature: Logic of capital, logics of care
The Ecopolitics of Voice: On NotSpeaking For the Trees
09:00-12:30 Session S4: Epistemology 1

Epistemology 1

Location: BUCH D323
Testimony as Joint Activity
DISCUSSANT: Nathan Cockram

ABSTRACT. This paper focuses on ways in which we examine testimony by asking how the epistemic agent can meet constraints of autonomy and dependence within a testimonial exchange. In particular, I argue that we can meet these constraints by shifting our perspective on testimony. We shouldn’t analyze individual testifying acts nor understand our ability to testify as an individual cognitive capacity. Instead, we should examine testimony at the level of the social activity and understand our ability to testify as a capacity to partake in a joint activity towards common goals.

Questions for Uniqueness
DISCUSSANT: Joshua Brecka

ABSTRACT. Some argue that it is permissible to possess differing doxastic attitudes towards any proposition given the same body of evidence, call that Permissivism. Others oppose this view and argue for the so-called Uniqueness Thesis. In this paper, I argue that Uniqueness is untenable because we cannot think of epistemic rationality as free of any practical components. First, I evaluate arguments for and against Uniqueness. I show that many extant arguments against Uniqueness fail. Finally, I offer a better argument which brings out that rational belief is not determined solely by evidence but also by the questions that guide one’s inquiry.

Knowledge of Disjunctions and Surprises

ABSTRACT. This paper provides a fresh resolution of the prediction paradox. All versions have an individual (or group of individuals), X, apprised of a premise (E*) that is equivalent to a disjunction, [D1 v ... v Dn], a premise (S*) affirming that X cannot know, within certain parameters, $, which disjunct is true. and a critical step which supposedly follows from X’s knowledge of (E*): (KS) If [Dn] was the true disjunct, X would know it was true within parameters $. We argue that (KS) does not generally follow, and that when (KS) does hold, (S*) cannot coherently be accepted. So, there is no legitimate route to paradox.

09:00-12:30 Session S5: Language, Epistemology and Power (Canadian Society for Women in Philosophy)
Location: BUCH D307
Active Ignorance and Gendered Violence

ABSTRACT. One of the problems of overcoming situations of epistemic injustice is the fact that we are often meta-ignorant of epistemic gaps. More specifically, those with sufficient social power and privilege to shape the collective hermeneutical resources are often structurally insulated from knowing about ways in which those resources fail to capture the experiences of those who are relatively marginalized. But as Jose Medina has also pointed out in his discussions of active ignorance, it may not just be that the privileged do not need to know about injustice; it may also be that they sometimes need not to know about it as well. I want to consider a very particular instance of this phenomenon, namely when one refuses to believe that they have committed an act of gendered violence against another person. In many cases, I will argue that our stereotypes about perpetrators of such violence, place epistemic barriers to people coming to know that they have wronged others in these kinds of ways.

Pretense Run Amok: On Interpretation and Domination
Testimony, Rape Culture, and Contextual Injustice

ABSTRACT. Contextualist treatments of clashes of intuitions can allow that two claims, apparently in conflict, can both be true. But making true utterances is far from the only thing that matters — there are often substantive normative questions about what contextual parameters are appropriate to a given conversational situation. This paper foregrounds the importance of the social power to set contextual standards, and how it relates to injustice and oppression. I’ll consider the implications of the operation of this kind of power, given contextualism about knowledge ascriptions, to puzzles about knowledge regarding sexual assault allegations in a rape culture. The central upshot is that the connections between language, epistemology, and social justice are very deeply interlinked.

Predatory Grooming and Epistemic Infringement

ABSTRACT. Predatory grooming is a form of abuse most familiar from high-profile cases of sexual misconduct, e.g., the Nassar case at Michigan State. Predatory groomers target individuals in a systematic effort to lead them into relationships in which they are vulnerable to exploitation. This is an example of a broader form of epistemic misconduct that I describe as epistemic infringement, where this involves the contravention of social and epistemic norms in a way that undermines our epistemic agency.

In this talk we will look at the distinctive epistemic harm caused by epistemic infringement. As I will argue, this harm cannot be understood simply as the victim’s having a false belief or even as her being alienated from her belief-forming mechanisms. A deeper understanding of the harm caused by infringement shows that it stems from damage to one’s epistemic agency, and indeed, to one’s personhood.

09:00-12:30 Session S54: Applied Ethics 1
Location: BUCH B213
Fairness and Chance in Diachronic Lotteries: A Response to Vong
DISCUSSANT: Chris Stephens

ABSTRACT. In this paper, I show that Gerard Vong’s account of diachronic lotteries is vulnerable to John Broome’s objection that lottery winners have a justified complaint if their winning is ignored in a subsequent lottery for a specific benefit. Against Broome, Vong maintains that lottery winners do not have a justified complaint if their winning is ignored in a subsequent lottery. However, Vong’s argument is unconvincing because the counterexample at its core ignores crucial differences between various reasons to complain. I conclude by proposing a modification to Vong’s account of lotteries that can accommodate the intuition animating Broome’s objection.

The Duty to Silence and the Duty to Engage

ABSTRACT. Instructors of higher education wield considerable authority in their classrooms. What should instructors do when students make controversial statements that offend the dignity of others? This paper argues that instructors have two duties in such circumstances. First, instructors have a perfect duty to silence statements that intentionally undermine the dignity of others. Second, instructors have an imperfect duty to engage with some controversial views. To justify these duties I turn to Mill’s defence of free expression in On Liberty and consider the reasons given to justify the limitation of hate speech by the Supreme Court of Canada.

Spherical Students in a Vacuum
DISCUSSANT: Elliot Rossiter

ABSTRACT. It is important to teach business ethics students about social action problems, and game theory is an indispensable tool to that end. This means bringing game theory into the realm of business ethics, which Robert Solomon has decried as reckless and damaging. We argue that Solomon mischaracterizes the role of game theory in ethics by positing that the theory is strictly instructive of how to conduct business. The role of game theory varies, however. When teaching students about social action problems, game theory is a diagnostic tool that highlights incentives and reveals values.

09:00-12:30 Session S6: Workshop on "Essays on Linguistic Realism"

“Essays on Linguistic Realism”, edited by Christina Behme (Kwantlen Polytechnic University) and Martin Neef (Technical University Braunschweig) was published in September 2018 by Benjamins (Amsterdam). This volume contains a series of articles by leading philosophers and linguists discussing a philosophical framework distinct from currently dominant ones: Linguistic Realism. This approach distinguishes between use of language, knowledge of language, and language itself. The latter is conceived as part of the realm of abstract objects. The proposed workshop would be an opportunity to make this cutting edge research accessible for the first time to a wider audience in North-America.

Christina Behme, Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, Kwantlen Polytechnic University

D. Terrence Langendoen, Professor Emeritus [ret.] Department of Linguistics, University of Arizona; Expert at Robust Intelligence Program, Division of Information & Intelligent Systems, Computer & Information Science & Engineering Directorate at NSF
David Pitt, Professor and Chair, Department of Philosophy, California State University, Los Angeles
Paul M. Postal, retired, formerly Professor at Department of Linguistics, New York University

Location: BUCH D301
Introduction of "Essays on Linguistic Realism"
What kind of science is linguistics?
Languages as complete and distinct systems of reference
Linguistic realism and language evolution
09:00-12:30 Session S7: History of Philosophy 1
Location: BUCH D204
Cavendish on Figures and Individuation

ABSTRACT. Most interpretations of Cavendish focus instead on her conception of matter or nature as a whole. Insofar as figures and their interactions are considered, they are taken as a given – Cavendish assumes them with no further explanation. Some consideration is given to her references to causal occasions, but these casual powers are thought to be “the bedrock of explanation”. There is nothing further to be said about the nature of these figures such that they function as these occasions. On the contrary, I argue that Cavendish has a robust understanding of the individuation of these figures and their causal powers. Since the concept of figures plays such an integral role in her philosophy, we should be able to give arguments for how what these figures are and how they are individuated. But given that Cavendish herself does not lay out these arguments explicitly, doing so requires taking some steps back. For Cavendish, there are three intimately and (I argue) ultimately inseparable key metaphysical concepts: figures, matter, and motion. In order to understand figures then, we must first understand Cavendish’s conception of matter. In understanding her conception of matter, we gain insight into her definition of motion. And it is this definition of motion that explains how to individuate figures. I run through each of these arguments in turn. I begin by isolating Cavendish’s technical use of ‘figure’, arguing that she means it to capture how matter is delimited such that it constitutes finite parts. I then turn to consider Cavendish’s arguments for active matter. I run through her three premises for the conclusion that matter and motion are both conceptually and really inseparable, and so matter must always be moving or active matter. Given this argument, I claim that Cavendish’s definition of motion cannot be the traditional early modern definition of motion as local motion, but instead should be understood as an internal principle of activity. With this definition of motion, I argue, we can understand how figures are individuated: they are organized around their distinct principle of activity, with a figure being a collection of matter that shares the same capacity and end. Finally, I return to explain how the powers of these individual figures plays a foundational role in Cavendish’s material system.

Locke and the Virtue of Industry
DISCUSSANT: Nikolas Hamm

ABSTRACT. In this paper, I explore how recommending the virtue of industry – understood as a willingness to labour productively for the benefit of oneself and others – is something of continuous interest to Locke and an important element of his moral philosophy. The distinctive contribution of this paper is to explore an under-examined aspect of Locke’s ethics and to show how it relates both to themes in his general moral and political philosophy and to broader historical trends concerning the nature of work and character.

The Structure of Leibnizian Possible Worlds

ABSTRACT. This paper concerns the structure of Leibnizian possible worlds and the order of conceptual priority between possible worlds and possible substances. I use textual evidence to develop an alternative to the received view on these matters. One advantage for my account is that it circumvents apparent difficulties facing Leibniz’s theory of compossibility, but the account is also of interest in its own right, since it seems to have been overlooked by interpreters so far.

According to the received view of Leibniz's metaphysics, possible worlds result from possible substances through a combinatorial process in the divine mind. God first conceives of all possible substances, and then conceives the ways that they can be combined into possible worlds. Distinct possible worlds emerge from this process because not all possible are compossible; that is, not just any possible substance can coexist with just any other.

But Leibniz also articulated a very different account of the structure of possible worlds and the relative conceptual priority of possible worlds and possible substances. According to this account, God conceives of possible worlds by first conceiving of the laws of the general order for each world. The laws of the general order determine the laws of nature or subordinate maxims for that world, such as the psychological and physical laws. In turn, the laws of nature determine the individual substances in that world. For example, in the actual world, Caesar’s decision to cross the Rubicon is determined by the psychological law that human beings choose the apparent best.

The clearest articulation of this account of possible worlds is found in Leibniz’s correspondence with Arnauld, but a good deal of evidence is also found in other texts, both from the same period and later in Leibniz’s career.

For Leibniz, a possible world, like a possible substance, is an idea in the divine mind. The question of the conceptual priority between possible worlds and possible substances is the question of which ideas depend on which. On the received view, possible substances are conceptually prior to the worlds to which they belong, and possible worlds are structured by the relationship of compossibility—whatever that relationship should turn out to be—since a given possible world just is a collection of compossibles.

On my account, the possible individual substances are not conceptually prior to the worlds to which they belong. Instead, individual substances conceptually depend on the world to which they belong: God conceives of a given individual substance in virtue of conceiving of the world to which it belongs, the laws of that world, and what those laws would bring about.

This account should not be confused with so-called lawful accounts of compossibility, according to which substances are compossible just in case they do (or could) fall under the same laws. It eschews the combinatorial approach to possible worlds altogether, so no account of compossibility is necessary.

09:00-12:30 Session S78: Metaphysics 1
Location: BUCH D201
Epistemicism about Practical Reasons
DISCUSSANT: Phyllis Pearson

ABSTRACT. Most philosophers hold that there are at least two kinds of reasons: reasons to believe, and reasons to act. My goal is to show that the view that all reasons for action can be explained in terms of reasons for belief, epistemicism about practical reasons, isn’t a nonstarter, and is at least defensible. My focus will be on reducing pragmatic (prudential, instrumental) reasons for action to reasons for belief, with the hope that many of the points I make here can be used to show, in the future, how moral reasons for action can be reduced to reasons to believe.

Neo-Aristotelian Naturalism as Ethical Naturalism
DISCUSSANT: Cristian Trout

ABSTRACT. Standard forms of ethical naturalism purport to explain ethical claims in terms of facts that fall within the scope of natural science. In contrast, neo-Aristotelian naturalism maintains that ethical claims are based on human nature while denying that human nature falls within the scope of natural science. In this paper, I argue that despite the contrary suggestion of some commentators, neo-Aristotelian naturalism is a form of ethical naturalism in the standard, metaphysical sense. In doing so, I reconstruct the neo-Aristotelian argument for ethical naturalism in terms of a continuity between the ethical domain and the natural domain of life.

Primitivism About the Abstract / Concrete Distinction
DISCUSSANT: James Davies

ABSTRACT. What exactly distinguishes abstract from concrete entities? There are three main approaches to this question: primitivism, eliminativism, and reductionism. According to the first option, the distinction is real and primitive (i.e., not subject to reductive analysis). According to the second, the distinction is not real. According to the third, it is real but subject to reductive analysis. Here I briefly lay out a novel argument for a specific sort of primitivism.

09:00-12:30 Session S86: Propositions and Dependence
Location: BUCH D314
Mind-dependence or Magic
Dependence for Necessitists
On the Grounds of Gappy Propositions
14:00-17:30 Session S11: Philosophy of Art 1
Location: BUCH D201
Aesthetic and Some Other Forms of Value
DISCUSSANT: Mojgan Jafari

ABSTRACT. Abstract: Aesthetic and Some Other Forms of Value

A single thread runs through superficially different appraisals of monetary, historic, personal and aesthetic value; namely the ability of a thing being evaluated to realize respective ends in view. Various considerations point to the need to distinguish between an evaluated thing, the ends for which it is judged, and the value itself. Bearing this threefold distinction in mind while resisting a common confusion between semantic and pragmatic aspects of evaluative utterances can help forestall exaggerated skepticism about aesthetic value.

Symphones Are Names

ABSTRACT. I defend a version of the view that works of (Western Classical) music are indicated sound structures: sound structure-types, plus a socio-historical context of composition. (Cf. Levinson 1980) from the objection that indicated sound structures (or indicated types more generally) do no work outside the philosophy of repeatable artworks. (Cf. Mag Uidhir 2012.) I do this by arguing that indicated types can also be found in the ontology of linguistic expressions. In fact I will argue that indicated types (i.e. repeatable artworks generally), can be viewed as a certain kind of proper name.

My argument is based on the observation that the identity conditions of both musical works and names intuitively obey some common conditions. First, musical works are intuitively created things, whereas abstract sound structures are not. The same seems to hold for words: the English word “timecube” was created, but the abstract phonetic structure it instantiates was not.

Second, neither should be individuated purely sonically or orthographically; names can be mispronounced, and musical works can be badly performed; names and musical scores can be mistranscribed – without necessarily endangering their identity.

Third, musical works and names for ordinary objects display very similar ‘Twin Earth’ intuitions about their identity. Consider a Twin Earth-situation where Twin Beethoven composes a musical work sonically indiscernible from our own beloved 9th symphony. Ordinary intuition says that despite sonic indiscernibility, the ‘Twin 9th’ is distinct from the actual 9th.(Cf. Burgess & Rose 1997.) The indicated types view explains this by citing differences in the socio-historical circumstances of composition: musical works are individuated at least partly by (causal connection to) act of composition. Turning to names, consider a person S who in the process of interacting with two mutually isolated linguistic communities comes to be named by each. In a fit of pure coincidence the name given by one linguistic community is both phonetically and orthographically indistinguishable from that given by the other. But there remains an intuition that these names are nevertheless distinct. (Perhaps someone ignorant of their co-reference could use them to hold opposite beliefs.) Some philosophers (e.g. Kaplan 1990) have taken such situations to show that names are individuated at least partly socio-historically; in particular, that different acts of dubbing yield different names. So perhaps both names and musical works are such that difference in initial ‘dubbing’ or composition entails difference tout court. This makes room to entertain the thought that indicated types are a kind of name.

Lastly I observe that, quite unlike most referring expressions, qualitatively indiscernible indicated types necessarily co-refer. However this can be explained by taking indicated types to be a specific kind of referring expression, namely standard names: names whose reference is fixed on logical grounds, rather than conventional ones. (Cf. Kaplan 1968.)

If all this is correct then there may be room to hold that indicated types are not to be found only in the ontology of Western Classical music, or of repeatable artworks generally. They also do work in the ontology of linguistic expressions.

The Body Aesthetic

ABSTRACT. As Jacques Ranciere notes, for two centuries aesthetics has been “the name for the category designating the sensible fabric and intelligible form of what we call ‘Art’”. From Kant’s aesthetic judgment, which consists of “throwing a bridge” between the domain of reason and the domain of sensibility, to Nietzsche’s conception of struggle between the Apollonian and the Dionysian, and Heidegger’s thinking of the ontology of the work of art in terms of a struggle between World and Earth, the tension between sensibility and ideaic is at the core of aesthetic thought. However, when we try to understand dance as an aesthetic phenomenon, we encounter a difficulty: how are we to understand the art of dance as a unique configuration of the sensible and the intelligible – with the human body as the sensible fabric, and the ideas that it conveys as the intelligible form? How is the medium, the human body, or more accurately the subject herself, both a phenomenological “lived body” and an “aesthetic object”? This lecture seeks to problematize the unique relation between sense and materiality that is specific to the work of art, and to the domain of dance in particular. Art “makes sense outside of sense” (sens hors du sens), argues Jean-Luc Nancy in his dialogue with choreographer Mathilde Monnier on the nature of dance and philosophy. If sense is about achievement, completion, reaching a goal (20), then art manifests a desire to escape this completion, this “bouclage du sens”. However, both Nancy and Monnier agree that what remains to be explored is the specific mode in which dance makes sense outside of sense (Ibid, page). It seems that, in recent years, philosophers have discovered dance (e.g. Lepecki, Badiou, Ranciere, Nancy); yet, the case of dance as a philosophical aesthetic question remains seldom explored. In this lecture, I seek to establish some coordinates to think the aesthetics of dance. I begin with section 17 of Kant’s Critique of the Power of Judgment, which deals with the human body as the ideal measure of beauty, and the primary measure of any aesthetic judgment. According to Kant, the body is the paradigmatic object of excess with respect to signification and hence is suitable to serve as an Urbild, a paradigmatic presentation (Darstellung) that stands as the measure of aesthetic judgment. We also find this argument, in a different context and with different terminology, in Nancy’s claim that the “aesthetic body is a tautology”. For both Nancy and Kant, the human body is essentially, first and foremost, an aesthetic object, and this already dictates a certain relation between “sense and material”. This lecture will examine the manner in which this body aesthetic could be applied to the case of dance.

14:00-17:30 Session S14: Epistemology 2
Location: BUCH D221
Epistemic Culpability
DISCUSSANT: Phyllis Pearson

ABSTRACT. I propose a new theory of epistemic culpability. First, I consider and reject an account based on the classical theory of moral responsibility, which requires direct voluntary control over our beliefs. Second, I consider and reject two accounts that focus on indirect control over our beliefs, based on critical reflection and reasons-responsiveness, respectively. Third, I turn to an alternative account of responsibility, known in the literature as ‘answerability’. I propose amending this view to have an element of what I call reasons-sensitivity. Throughout, I illustrate using the example of an agent who is duped by reading fake news.

Silencing Oneself: A Result of Epistemic Injustice

ABSTRACT. Imagine a scenario where Haley and Dylan are having a conversation on the bus together. Another person approaches them and asks the pair for directions. Dylan confidently tells him to get off the bus in two stops. Haley hears this but thinks the inquirer should get off in three stops. Before Haley objects to Dylan’s directions, she stops and thinks, “do I really know the directions? It would be unfortunate if this person is lost because of us. Maybe I should tell him that I think it’s probably three stops. But that just sounds like a guess and this person doesn’t need a guess. I’ll let Dylan handle it.” So Haley is quiet and Dylan’s directions stand. Heretofore, the kind of silencing involved in Haley’s case have remained unexamined. Silencing, of the typical sort occurs when an audience hinders a speaker’s ability to perform certain speech acts. In this paper, I’ll provide an account which explains cases like Haley’s. A recent discussion from Unnsteinsson (forthcoming) identifies a type of disablement where systematic oppression results in silencing but the speaker is the one who blocks the speech act. This is very close to the kind of silencing occurring in Haley’s case. But Unnsteinsson’s account of singular disablement requires that the oppressed group has internalized and believes oppressive norms which bar certain speech acts. But there’s nothing about the reasoning pattern to indicate that Haley believes oppressive norms. Nor is it clear that Haley sees no available speech act which would count. Originally she sees a way of giving testimony and having it be received as such. In addition, Unnsteinsson’s account focuses on speech acts which would fail if they were available to the speaker. If Haley were to give testimony it seems that it would count as such. The speech acts that Haley considers would count, if she gave them. In this paper, I will argue for a type of singular silencing caused by an awareness of stereotypical credibility deficits and conversational norms. It’s an account that accurately explains reasoning processes like Haley’s. In addition, the type of silencing I present here occurs in a wide variety of cases. Building on Fricker’s (2007) argument that some groups are faced with epistemic injustices, I argue that these injustices could be turned into low credibility stereotypes. Moreover, these combined with stereotype threat can result in an internalized credibility deficit which results in systematic hedging, a type of silencing. In addition, it can further mix with Gricean maxims to result in complete silence. I’ll also argue that this silencing could play a role in licensing subordinating speech acts; a phenomenon explored in Maitra (2012). I also introduce two more cases of such silencing which highlight the epistemic consequences of silencing oneself.

Epistemic Asymmetry and Group Support: Expanding Fricker’s Trustful Conversations
DISCUSSANT: Jianding Bai

ABSTRACT. In this paper I offer a friendly amendment to Miranda Fricker’s concept of “mind steadying”—a concept she borrows from Bernard Williams and uses in her 2007 book Epistemic Injustice. An amendment is required to avoid an implicitly high cognitive standard that excludes cognitively atypical agents from participation in mind steadying. But this amendment does much more than remove the unintended obstacle: it reveals how mind steadying is a powerful tool for identifying and explaining a wide range of hitherto unrecognized epistemic injustices that cognitively atypical agents experience.

14:00-17:30 Session S15: History of Philosophy 2
Location: BUCH D323
Hobbes Between Two Worlds: Leviathan and the Emergence of Probability

ABSTRACT. Hobbes is most famous for his defense of unconditional authority for the sovereign. Some would say this argument made him infamous; it has certainly inspired rich and spirited debate over how his materialist ambitions are compatible with his normative claims. But Hobbes is infamous in other circles, for other reasons: his quarrel with Wallis over geometric proof, and his feud with Boyle over the validity of experimental findings. To many mathematicians and scientists, these are bizarre turns. What explains them?

There are several plausible analyses, but Ian Hacking’s work on the emergence of probability, and his account of the stability of the laboratory sciences, can help us understand the degree to which Hobbes was caught between two worlds: the rigor of Cartesian rationalism, and the explanatory force of the new language of chance.

Ian Hacking has shown us how, at a critical juncture in the seventeenth century, the idea of probability emerged as grounds for a new category of authoritative knowledge: inductive inference based in degrees of belief about stable frequencies of events over time; ‘probable evidence enters the same league as demonstration’.

Around this same historical juncture, Thomas Hobbes was wrestling with problems of knowledge and authority, most famously offering a starkly materialist account of human knowledge and nature, en route to arguing for the unconditional authority of the sovereign, deploying fear to counteract those passions that push us toward conflict, and letting us see, unclouded by our passions, the reasonableness of honouring our covenants.

This materialist argument for absolutism has generated a vast body of interpretation. But what sense are we to make of the tension between Hobbes’s obsessive concern with materialist foundations, yet his intense suspicion of the empirical claims of the Royal Society experimenters? What to make of his axiomatic, geometric methods in articulating his materialism, yet his strange refusal to accept the conceptual power of the emerging methods of mathematical demonstration rooted in Cartesian analysis?

Here too there is rich debate, and several plausible analyses. Shapin and Schaffer’s study of the dispute with Robert Boyle over the air pump emphasize the literary conventions, standards of speech, and the morally inflected norms of witnessing and reporting that were vital to the rise of experimental discovery as an authoritative form of knowledge. To be an experimental natural philosopher was to be credible in a particular way. Hobbes’s suspected these norms were structures of authority, not impartial knowledge. In a not dissimilar line of analysis, Douglas Jesseph accounts for Hobbes’s disastrous failures in mathematics by highlighting his fixation with geometry as the foundation of mathematical demonstration, dismissing algebraic approaches as ‘only a new kind of language that has been foisted upon geometry to no purpose’.

Viewing these disputes, and these influential explanations, through Ian Hacking’s work on probability and statistics helps us understand these historical accounts in a much richer way: we can see the extent to which Hobbes was a deeply ambivalent thinker, caught between two worlds in his understandings of authority, knowledge, and demonstration.

Spinoza's Theory of Belief

ABSTRACT. In this essay, I examine the two prominent interpretations of Spinoza’s theory of belief: what I refer to as the Universalist Model (henceforth the UM), and what is referred in the secondary literature as the Dominance Model (henceforth the DM). In short, the UM claims that, for Spinoza, all ideas are beliefs by virtue of sharing certain common properties, whereas the DM claims that only ideas that have achieved a certain amount of power in the mind relative to contrary ideas count as genuine beliefs. The goal of this essay is to both supplement the DM and to argue for its superiority over the UM. I supplement the DM by arguing for a relational conception of power, where power is significantly determined by the relations among interacting ideas rather than being the property of an idea taken in isolation. I argue that we ought to prefer the DM because (1) there is textual evidence from the Short Treatise on The Emendation of the Intellect that suggests that Spinoza differentiated beliefs from other types of ideas, (2) part of the argument in favour of the UM relies on a misreading of the E2p48d, and (3) the DM is explanatorily superior insofar as it allows Spinoza’s philosophy of mind to accommodate different types of ideas and thus should be preferred even in the absence of reasons (1) and (2). I begin by outlining the UM as articulated by Michael Della Rocca in “The Power of an Idea: Spinoza’s Critique of Pure Will.” The UM claims that all ideas are belief-like insofar as all ideas are propositionally structured and involve an affirmation. That is, the UM argues that to have an idea for Spinoza is to have the propositional attitude of affirming something as true, thus making all ideas belief-like in structure. After providing an outline of the UM I discuss the arguments that Della Rocca advances in favour of this position. Following this, I outline the DM account as originally articulated by Diane Steinberg in “Belief, Affirmation, and the Doctrine of the Conatus in Spinoza” and as modified by Justin Steinberg in “Two Puzzles Concerning Spinoza’s Conception of Belief.” The DM argues the all ideas exhibit a certain amount of power, or force, and are in competition with other ideas. An idea counts as a belief only insofar as it is more powerful than competing ideas and thus gains a dominant position in the mind. For instance, if a person had ideas P and ¬P, the more powerful of these two ideas would count as a genuine belief. After discussing what Diane Steinberg and Justin Steinberg take to determine the power of an idea, I argue that the power of an idea – and hence that which determines a belief – is also to a large extent determined by how that idea interacts with the other ideas that one has. I conclude by advancing arguments (1) through (3) as discussed above.

Why Kantians Should Care about Character

ABSTRACT. While much has been written on Kant’s moral philosophy, crucial aspects remain unsettled when it comes to bridging the gap between Kant’s ideal theories of moral worth and the concrete realization of moral action. Indeed, Kantian morality has often been accused to be lacking in regard to the latter. Whereas the former emphasizes recognition of the demands of duty, the latter concerns adherence to duty in the real world, and while it is one thing to stipulate that ‘pure reason’ can be made practical and thus direct our action toward morality, explaining how one can counter decidedly non-moral inclinations to actually follow through with moral action is a rather distinct task—a task that has as of yet not been settled in the current academic literature. To help bridge this gap, it seems that we must work from both sides and study both the intelligible ground of morality and the phenomenal mechanisms for its implementation. In this paper, I argue that these two approaches converge in the notion of moral character.

This convergence can be seen—among other places—in part two of the Anthropology from a pragmatic point of view, where Kant writes that moral character “signifies that property of the will by which the subject binds himself to definite practical principles that he has prescribed to himself irrevocably by his own reason” (7:292), and thereby serves as “the distinguishing mark of the human being as a rational being endowed with freedom” (7:285). Thus, writes Kant, “to be able to simply say of a human being: ‘he has a character’ is not only to have said a great deal about him, but is also to have praised him a great deal” (7:292). Despite its clear importance, however, Kant’s notion of moral character remains rather under-studied. Indeed, while it is not uncommon to encounter references to the role of character in relation to moral action, agency and virtue, rarely if ever is character itself defined, let alone given any depth of analysis. Nevertheless, character is a crucial aspect of morality, one which not only plays a significant role in the actual manifestation of moral action, but which in so doing ends up providing a critical link between the world of the intellect and the realm of practical action itself.

In this paper, I address two goals; first, I provide a clear account Kant’s notion of moral character itself, and second, I highlight the importance of moral character not only for individual agents, but for humanity itself and thereby its impact on political engagement and social development. While I don't seek to prioritize ‘character’ over other aspects of Kant’s moral theory—such as duty, virtue, humanity or moral sentiment, for example—I argue that a place among familiar and central terms like these ought to be reserved for character as well, for when it comes to succeeding at moral action, the presence or absence of moral character is no less critical.

From Kantian Pluralism to Arendtian Plurality: Thinking and Judging as a Citizen of the World
DISCUSSANT: Dennis Hudecki

ABSTRACT. In The Life of the Mind, Hannah Arendt singles out Kant as “more aware than any other philosopher of human plurality.” In this paper I consider the Kantian roots of Arendt’s concept of plurality. While there is a vast literature pertaining to Kant’s influence on Arendt, it is almost exclusively devoted to their respective theories of judgment and thus to Arendt’s reading of Kant’s 3rd Critique. I show the importance for Arendt of Kant’s Anthropology (1798), which contains a notion of plurality: a way of thinking whereby I regard myself as a mere citizen of the world and not the entire world. I show how plurality for Arendt is not simply an ontological notion; it is also normative, enjoining us to take up a particular attitude in our thinking.

14:00-17:30 Session S16: Philosophy of Medicine
Location: BUCH D313
Etiological, Symptom-Based, and Pathophysiological Approaches to Disease Classification

ABSTRACT. Nosology, the part of medicine concerned with disease classification, is an essential component of medical research. It is important for our theoretical understanding of different diseases, and thus plays a significant role in the practical and clinical goals of medical science. Disease classifications inform diagnostic criteria and help in the development of effective medical interventions. They are vital to medical research, epidemiological studies, and reporting on world health, and contribute greatly to improving medical prediction. In this paper, I articulate and analyse the principles underlying three prominent approaches to physical disease classification, their advantages and disadvantages, and what counts as a good classification in each approach. An etiological approach involves classifying diseases according to their distal causes – those causes which are extraneous to the constitutive mechanisms of the disease. For instance, rheumatic fever is the cause of mitral stenosis. A symptom-based approach classifies diseases according to clinical picture or syndrome. Mitral stenosis, for example, may be classified by appealing to the clinical picture that includes dizziness, shortness of breath, fatigue, heart palpitations, and chest pain. Finally, a pathophysiological approach appeals to abnormal biomechanistic structure or function when classifying diseases. Here, mitral stenosis is classified as an abnormally elevated left atrioventricular pressure gradient due to significant obstruction of the mitral valve orifice area. Despite its importance, relatively little philosophical work has been done on different approaches to disease classification. Most existing accounts seem to favour an etiological approach. Some are limited to the role of nosology in psychiatry and the purported flaws of choosing a symptom-based model over developing etiological classifications for mental disorders (Ghaemi 2012, Zachar and Kendler 2017), while other accounts examine the monocausal-multifactorial distinction in the etiological approach (Cooper 2002, Broadbent 2013). Apart from Fuller (2017) none of these philosophical accounts discuss something akin to a pathophysiological approach as a possible alternative. Etiological classification is privileged by some medical professionals as well. Some hold that the etiological approach is desirable because such classifications demonstrate a better understanding of a disease (Scadding 1959), and others claim that when we are able to classify diseases in different ways, etiological classifications are typically more useful than pathophysiological ones, which in turn are more useful than symptom-based classifications (Snider 2003). I argue that medicine should strive for a pathophysiological approach to disease classification. There are at least two reasons for this. First, I suggest that a good pathophysiological classification indicates a better understanding of a particular disease than an etiological or a symptom-based classification. This is because good pathophysiological classifications can include information about causes and symptoms when necessary and can be characterised at coarser and finer grains. Second, I argue that because of this, good pathophysiological classifications are better suited to the clinical goals of medicine, particularly to the development of effective medical interventions and to medical prediction.

Patient participation in clinical research is not a moral duty

ABSTRACT. There exists a longstanding debate over whether patients have a moral duty to participate in clinical research. Although commentators (Harris 2005, Schaefer et al. 2009) proffer many arguments, such as the "free-rider," "rule of rescue," and "public good" arguments, to support the cultural shift from viewing research participation as supererogatory to morally obligatory, these have been successfully challenged within the literature (Rennie 2011, Yarborough 2017). However, Rosamond Rhodes (2017) provides a novel argument, called "collaborative necessity," to justify a moral duty to participate in research. In this essay, I refute Rhodes' argument of collaborative necessity as a justification for a moral duty to participate in research.

Rhodes' collaborative necessity argument comprises three separable claims. The first claim is that the social benefits of research are impossible to achieve without universal collaboration. The argument is based in an analogy: "to have security from human-inflicted harm, everyone in a society must obey the criminal law." But the analogy does not hold. If some people are above the law, then the legal system is fundamentally undermined. Yet if some people refuse participation, the research enterprise remains intact.

The second claim is that the structural necessity of research requires universal collaboration to generate social benefits. In another argument by analogy, Rhodes states that the structure of a fair criminal trial requires a jury of your peers, such that "if you and your peers were to wrangle your way out of service, the benefit of trial by a jury of your peers would be denied to you and all of your peers." Thus, without universal collaboration, the results of research will be denied to any population that refuses participation. But, again, the analogy does not hold. There would be no justice in a judicial system where all trials have a jury composed of only one racial group. While research conducted only on one racial group would be unjust, it is nonetheless research that possesses some social value.

The final claim is that the benefits of research are more efficient and efficacious with universal collaboration, analogous to it being "far more efficient to fluoridate the water supply for a municipality than rely on each family to fluoridate its own water." But neither the moral duty to participate in research, nor the use of public health interventions are supported by appeal to efficiency. Public health interventions are justifiable because of the nature of the problem and the democratic authorization of the population.

In sum, a critical examination of Rhodes’ novel collaborative necessity argument reveals that the three underlying claims fail to support a moral duty to participate in clinical research. As it does not stand up to scrutiny, this opens the larger question as to whether there remain any compelling grounds for such a moral duty.

A Unifying Account of Placebos and their Effects

ABSTRACT. It is remarkable that placebos work. Sugar pills relieve our pain, and sham surgeries increase our mobility. Placebos (objects or interventions, such as sugar pills or sham surgeries) and placebo effects (a change in the state of the patient after administering a placebo, such as analgesia or increased mobility) are well-documented phenomena that invite ongoing philosophical attention. Within clinical contexts placebos are contrasted with standard treatment in the following ways: placebos are taken to be inert (rather than active), illusory (rather than genuine), and illegitimate (rather than legitimate). However, placebos also have causal powers. Thus, any account of placebo must thread this needle: it must say what is distinctive about placebo treatments in contrast with standard treatments, without minimizing the role that placebo treatments can play in promoting a patient’s health and well-being.

Placebos have two primary functions: (1) they are scientific controls and (2) they are treatments. A placebo is a control insofar as it sets a baseline measure for effectiveness against which an experimental treatment in an RCT (randomized controlled trial) is compared. A placebo is a treatment insofar as it promotes the health of the patient. However, there is a scope problem—it is difficult to give a unified account of placebos in light of the disunity of items, interventions, or effects the notion is meant to capture.

The scope problem motivates three kinds of responses. The first response is deflationary, arguing that the notion is misguided and misleading because ‘placebo’ does not refer to any distinct set of items, interventions, or effects, in the world. The second response argues that although there is no unitary notion of placebo (or the placebo effect) one can adopt a kind of pluralism about placebo, claiming that the scope of items and intervention that are called placebos (and the effects they induce) is wide-ranging and do not share any core set of characteristics. On this view, ‘placebo’ might have a family resemblance but no core definition. However, there is a third kind of response. The unifying response, to be defended in this presentation, argues that despite the heterogeneity of cases the notion it is meant to pick out, a good conceptual analysis can reveal core characteristics that all placebos share.

This presentation will argue that if deflationary accounts of placebo are true, then placebo is unsuitable for such a role in scientific inquiry, and if pluralist accounts of placebo are true, then the kind of placebo administered in research settings may not share any characteristics with the kind of placebo administered in clinical contexts. This is a bad outcome, as the scientific data gathered in research settings should provide guidance for clinical practice. In contrast, a unified account of placebo can not only shed light on current research practices, but also encourage good (previously underutilized) clinical applications for placebo.

Monothematic Delusions: An Expressivist Two-Factor Account

ABSTRACT. On the two-factor model (Davies et al. 2001), monothematic delusions such as Capgras delusion (the delusion that a loved one has been replaced by an impostor (Capgras and Rebould-Lechaux 1923)) and Cotard delusion (the delusion that one is dead or does not exist (Cotard 1882)) are the result of an aberrative experience coupled with a selective breakdown in rationality. Herein we develop a novel two-factor account, the 'Expressivist' two-factor theory, and argue that it addresses the problems facing existing views. We articulate existing (so-called 'Explanationist' and 'Endorsement') accounts and raise serious problems for each: Both are guilty of assuming that the only form of understanding available to theorists of delusion is rational understanding, but as rationalist account, they fail to capture the irrationality of the phenomenon. Our own Expressivist two-factor theory says that the content of monothematic delusion is arrived at via an attempt to express what the subject's disordered experience (first factor) is like and is cemented as a belief due to a breakdown in the subject's capacity to distinguish between her impressionistic characterization of that experience and the literal truth. This yields a form of understanding (for the theorist) that is not rational, and is more suited to delusion as a phenomenon.

14:00-17:30 Session S17: Perceptual Learning and Expertise Symposium
Location: BUCH D307
Art is for Learning to Perceive

ABSTRACT. What explains the ubiquity of art in all cultures, despite widely differing content? In this paper, I argue that it is for learning to perceive. Perceptual learning occurs in two ways. It can be spontaneous, in early life, when basic perceptual skills are developed by repeated trying. Or it can be effortful, when perceptual skills are developed beyond a baseline level by effortful practice. Art has widely shared primary attractors, I argue, which are explained by the motivation needed for spontaneous learning. It also has culturally specific secondary attractors which culturally co-evolve with skills of production.

How Perceptual Learning Changes our Perceptual Experience

ABSTRACT. Perceptual learning is an enduring change in the perceptual system - and our resulting perceptions - due to practice or repeated exposure to a perceptual stimulus. But what exactly is learned in perceptual learning? Does our perceptual experience become richer only in virtue of representing more low level properties such as colours, shapes, flavours and pitches, or does it also come to include the representation of high level properties such as dogs (natural kinds) and tables (artifactual kinds)? Here I argue that we can come to represent high level properties in perceptual experience via perceptual learning. My argument proceeds in three parts. I appeal to the mechanics of perceptual learning to argue that we learn to represent high level properties. I appeal to what I term the ‘common mechanism strategy’ in order to argue that such properties are represented in perception. And I appeal to a phenomenon called ‘categorical perception’ in order to argue that such properties are represented in perceptual experience


Berkeley, Reid, and Perceptual Learning

ABSTRACT. Berkeley and Reid treat perception as a developmental ability by which typical humans acquire greater perceptual sensitivity to a greater range of features through repeated interaction with the environment. According to Berkeley, although humans are born without the ability to see distance, size, shape and other spatial features, humans learn to perceive these features by sight. Through practice, visible features such as light and color acquire spatial significance — a long-lasting change to perception by which typical humans see visible spatial features originally unavailable to sight. Reid expanded Berkeley’s theory beyond vision to all of the sense modalities, and to features not originally presented to any sense: kind features such as ‘being a tomato’ as well as evaluative features, such as ‘being beautiful,’ or ‘being cruel’. Reid calls these “additional perceptive powers” acquiredperceptions.


Philosophers have assimilated the kinds of long-term changes in perception that Berkeley and Reid describe to changes in judgment or belief, on the one hand, or to changes in the contents of perception that are the result cognitive permeation (also known as cognitive penetration). If the phenomena described by Berkeley and Reid are mere changes in belief or judgment, then they are not, strictly speaking, changes in perception. If they are the result of top-down permeation of belief or judgment into the contents of perception, then they are either not long-lasting, or if they are, they should be distinguished from changes that are the result of learning processes that recruit and respond to the environment.


By contrast, I argue that the changes Berkeley and Reid describe are best seen as cases of perceptual learning: they are long-lasting changes in perception that result from practice or experience in an environment that increase the organism’s responsiveness to features in its environment.

Perceptual expertise, theory-ladennes, and epistemic virtue


Many experts—be they radiologists, bird watchers, or fingerprint examiners—are better perceivers in the domain(s) of their expertise. Or so it will be argued here (against modularists and other theorists of perception). Perceptual expertise is genuinely perceptual and genuinely cognitively sensitive, and this phenomenon reveals how we can become epistemically better perceivers. Further, it will be argued that many instances of perceptual expertise are instances of theory-laden perceptual observation, and that this reveals how theory-laden perception is, or can be, an epistemic virtue.  

14:00-17:30 Session S18: Metaphysics 2
Location: BUCH D301
Personal Identity, Progressive Dementia, and Advance Directives: Towards an Adoption of the Person Life View of Personal Identity

ABSTRACT. Although dementia patients are often unable to make their own healthcare decisions, making the use of advance directives desirable, they may express preferences contrary to instructions in their directives, making it unclear which are authoritative. However, as advance directives apply strictly to the persons who make them, which preferences are authoritative depends on one’s understanding of the metaphysics of personal identity – specifically, on whether one considers the patient at onset and the post-dementia patient to be the same person. To resolve this metaphysical and moral dilemma, I argue for the adoption of Marya Schechtman’s person life view of personal identity.

Against a Neo-Quinean Metaontology

ABSTRACT. Quine's dictum 'to be is to be the value of a variable' illustrates his metaontological doctrine of ontological commitment. Quine's doctrine has come under attack from a variety of alternative metaontological strategies, and has been recently defended by Peter van Inwagen. In this paper I show that there is a further problem with how the doctrine is applied in current debates, and when properly appreciated, Quine's doctrine is seen to be trivial and thus no help at all in settling current disputes. After introducing the doctrine I briefly give reasons for setting aside questions of paraphrase, which heretofore have dominated the debate. Instead, I show that tacit abductive inferences are frequently used which are independent of the doctrine but nonetheless make substantial metaphysical claims. Such abductions are wrongly conflated with part of the doctrine of ontological commitment, and once the inferential steps of these debates are properly laid out, the scope of the doctrine can be properly appreciated.

Twin Dilemmas
DISCUSSANT: Travis Dumsday

ABSTRACT. Determinism is the thesis that, at any instant, there is exactly one physically possible future. Indeterminism is the denial of determinism. In this paper I argue that there is a prima facie case for the incompatibility of both determinism and indeterminism with moral prohibition and moral obligation.

14:00-17:30 Session S20: Social/Political Philosophy 2
Location: BUCH D317
Qu’est-ce qu’un constructiviste humien peut dire sur la question animale? (Ou tout autre question normative d’ailleurs?)
DISCUSSANT: Juliette Roussin

ABSTRACT. Dans Fellow creatures, Christine Korsgaard soutient que les êtres humains seraient obligés de traiter les animaux sensibles comme des fins en soi : du fait que toute chose a de la valeur pour quelqu’un, les créatures sensibles devraient se voir reconnaître un droit à ce qui est bon pour elles. S’inspirant de travaux de Sharon Street et Étienne Brown, cette présentation tentera de démontrer que la méthode korsgaardienne dépasse toutefois ce que permet une théorie constructiviste conséquente. Un nouveau problème devra ensuite être abordé : devrions-nous alors opter pour une version humienne du constructivisme?

Does democratic equality require epistemic equality?
DISCUSSANT: Kiran Mintz-Woo

ABSTRACT. Does democratic equality, understood as the equal share of political control among members of a political community, require epistemic equality? The fact that citizens’ political judgments are not similarly informed, consistent, and well-considered has been invoked by some as a compelling argument against democracy. My argument rejects this antidemocratic conclusion. But it also departs from the opposite conception, according to which epistemic inequality among members of the political community does not affect democratic equality and is irrelevant to the kind of respect they are owed qua citizens. I argue that democratic equality does require that citizens be equally capable of expressing considered political judgments on political affairs. Epistemic equality is required by democratic equality, not on instrumental grounds as a condition for democracy’s epistemic successes and legitimacy, but out of respect for citizen’s democratic agency.

Framing religion: Belief, identity and multicultural accommodation
DISCUSSANT: Michael Da Silva

ABSTRACT. This paper argues that multicultural theory needs to recognize the continuities between various categories of group identity not only in discriminatory reactions to minority groups but also in their self-perception. Such recognition is lacking in political framings of religion that single it out as a distinct category, whether of belief or identity, in order to subject it to special regulative measures alleged to be appropriate to its unique character. These framings allow deliberative discourses to bypass a proper balancing of minority claims against majority rules, while disguising racist constructions of the “others” who are caught in these frames.

14:00-17:30 Session S22: Feminist Philosophy 1
Location: BUCH D229
Revisiting Commodification Critiques and Canada’s Non-Commercialization Approach to Regulating Surrogacy
DISCUSSANT: Kelin Emmett

ABSTRACT. I re-examine the role that commodification critiques might play in justifying Canada’s non-commercialization approach to regulating surrogacy. This approach was implemented on the basis of claims that commercial surrogacy exploits and commodifies women. First, I examine Vida Panitch’s (2017) challenge to commodification critiques and show how it applies to Canada’s regulatory approach. Second, I turn to Anne Phillips’ (2013, 2017) rearticulation of a commodification critique: commercial surrogacy is problematic because it undermines equality in a democratic society. I suggest this revision better justifies Canada’s non-commercialization stance, but that the preference for criminalizing payments is weakened.

Reflections on Mental Health Stigma, Narrative, and the Lived Experience of Schizophrenia

ABSTRACT. The aim of this paper is to offer a preliminary examination on the importance of narrative for helping to overcome the issue of stigma surrounding mental illness. I begin by discussing what narrative is and why narratives are important for authoring our own stories. I then discuss some potential reasons why the narratives of people with schizophrenia are often dismissed and I maintain that this is due in large part to the damaging effects of stigma. Shifting the negative and harmful impact of stigma surrounding mental illness, and changing the public's perception of mental health challenges in a more positive manner, requires efforts to raise awareness about the realities of living with these diagnoses. To achieve this aim, not only do I draw on patient narrative accounts to underscore the effects of stigma but I also draw on Husserl's phenomenological approach and Toombs' notion of "attentional focus" as means to view mental illness in a different way. By engaging directly with the lived experience of mental illness, and by engaging with the narratives which underscore the damaging impact that stigma has, I maintain that the public can begin developing more accepting views of schizophrenia and begin to support those who need it the most.

The Ableist Conflation and Germline Genetic Engineering

ABSTRACT. Gene editing technology allows for the addition, removal, or alteration of genetic material in the human genome. The clustered, regularly interspaced, short palindromic repeat (CRISPR) and CRISPR-associated protein 9 (Cas9) system are more precise than traditional gene therapy and can target specific DNA sequences rather than entire genes or alleles. Some additional benefits of CRISPR-Cas9 are that it is more precise and cheaper than other gene editing technology, such as zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs) and transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs). While these differences make CRISPR-Cas9 more accessible, this accessibility also creates several ethical challenges. These concerns have led many prominent researchers to strongly discourage research on germline gene editing in an attempt to slow down unforeseen dangerous outcomes.

These perceived dangers are especially worrisome for those living with, and who have built communities around, various disabilities. Whether these dangers are actual, the fact that we have identified them as potential dangers demonstrates how CRISPR technology is precariously intertwined with disability. One reason for this intertwining is that CRISPR proponents sell disability as tragic, much like how preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) and stem cell therapy were sold. Among others, Emily Beitiks says this creates a narrative that disabled people are living a tragic existence and that only through progress in the genetic sciences can we spare their suffering in future people. Joel Michael Reynolds presents this view as the ‘ableist conflation’—namely, the conflation of disability with pain and suffering. He states that the majority of theorists who commit this fallacy conflate death, suffering, and disability into a single group of experiences that ‘obviously no one wants’. However, he asserts that these same theorists rarely reflect on their use of the term ‘disability’ itself.

In this paper, I question whether supporters of CRISPR technology commit the ‘ableist conflation’—the conflation of disability with pain, suffering and even death. This position is held, both explicitly and implicitly, by many in the health sciences and can even be found among those who work within disability contexts. In my analysis I examine how the ableist conflation occurs in some of the arguments surrounding disability and reproduction. In the end I consider whether we might need to shift our focus and ask a different set of questions than what we currently do. Perhaps, instead of asking if proponents commit the conflation, we should be asking how to address the conflation that already exists.

14:00-17:30 Session S23: Philosophy of Mind 1
Location: BUCH D204
Success Semantics, Reinforcing Satisfaction, and Sensory Inclinations

ABSTRACT. Success semantics holds, roughly, that what it is for a state of an agent to be a belief that P is for it to be disposed to combine with her desires to cause behavior that would fulfill those desires if P. J.T. White argues that this can be supplemented with an account of what an agent desires to provide an attractive naturalistic theory of mental content. Whyte’s strategy is to give an account of the contents of an agent’s “basic desires” that does not depend upon the contents of her beliefs, and then to explain the contents of her other desires and beliefs in terms of each other. In this paper we argue that Whyte’s strategy can avoid the objections that have been raised against it by restricting the set of “basic desires” to sensory inclinations that cause us to do things quite independently of our beliefs about their contents.

Why Russellian Monism Can't Work
DISCUSSANT: Andrew Bailey

ABSTRACT. This paper divides Russellian monism ('RM') into strong RM, holding that physical reality derives its existence and nature from its conscious grounds; weak RM, holding that physical reality derives only its existence from its conscious grounds; and proto-phenomenal RM, holding that physical reality depends on proto-phenomenal rather than conscious grounds. The paper contends that strong RM succumbs to incoherence; that proto-phenomenal RM neither integrates physical reality and consciousness nor qualifies as monism; and that weak RM suffers from a host of problems that deny it advantages over other mind-body theories and probably render it incoherent.

Self-Awareness and Inner Objects
DISCUSSANT: Darren Medeiros

ABSTRACT. I defend Husserl’s notion of pre-reflective self-awareness (or pre-reflection) against two objections. On the one hand, Kriegel has criticized Husserlian pre-reflection because, he claims, pre-reflection does not apprehend experiences as objects. It is, therefore, a mysterious and ‘unstructured intrinsic glow’. Conversely, Zahavi has urged that we should reject Husserl’s notion of pre-reflection if it does commit us to treating experiences apprehended pre-reflectively as inner objects. I argue that each of these objections should be rejected. Contra Kriegel, Husserlian pre-reflection does apprehend experiences as inner objects. However, thus understood, it does not succumb to Zahavi’s criticisms.

14:00-17:30 Session S24: The Philosophical Legacy of Iris Murdoch

n honour of the 100th anniversary of her birth, this symposium will celebrate and reflect upon the legacy of Iris Murdoch. Murdoch was a novelist and philosopher who was active from the 1950s until the late 1990s. While mid-twentieth century moral philosophy sought to describe ordinary moral practices and to analyze concepts like ‘goodness’, Murdoch thought that moral philosophy should address the question: ‘How can we make ourselves better?’ This means understanding what human beings are like and what qualities of consciousness can support or inhibit their struggles to improve themselves. While moral philosophers in the mid-twentieth century were in the grip of ethical non-cognitivism and behaviourism, Murdoch, alongside other women in philosophy such as Philippa Foot, Mary Midgley and G. E. M. Anscombe, sought to defend a morally rich form of naturalism.

Although she has sometimes been cited as an influence by the likes of Cora Diamond, John McDowell, and Bernard Williams, her philosophical writing was not initially given the attention it deserved. In recent years, however, some philosophers have been working to understand the profundity of the intellectual debt that thinkers like McDowell owe to Murdoch. Others have been researching her role within the group of women philosophers who studied together in Oxford in the 1940s (which includes Anscombe, Foot and Midgley), defending the claim that these women formed a distinct school of thought in the history of analytic philosophy. In her own right, Murdoch has been recognized as someone whose work sheds light on:

  • The relationship between vision, attention, and moral goodness;

  • How moral realism might be understood and sustained in secular modern times;

  • The place of love in moral psychology; and

  • The place of literature in the moral life.

    This symposium will bring contemporary moral philosophy into conversation with these Murdochian insights and ensure that a Canadian event is held to honour the Murdoch Centenary. Participants will be invited to celebrate Murdoch’s contribution to philosophy, by either speaking to her thought directly or by showing its application to contemporary debates in the field.

Location: BUCH D314
The Idea of a Just and Loving Gaze
Iris Murdoch's Moral Vision: Murdoch and Moral Particularism
Paying Attention in the Age of Distraction: Lessons from Iris Murdoch
How Iris Murdoch does Moral Philosophy
14:00-17:30 Session S25: Canadian Society for Christian Philosophy
Location: BUCH D304
A Cartesian Account of Natural Necessity
Intellectual Humility: Situating the Virtue in the Context of Academic Philosophy
Finis Vitae and the Ars Moriendi: Defining the End of Life and 'Good Death'
14:00-17:30 Session S47: Self and Identity
Location: BUCH D213
Artificial Selves

ABSTRACT. This paper addresses the moral standing of Artificial Intelligences. Machine ethics, the field of research devoted to the project of designing AIs which possess moral competence, is quite well-developed (e.g. Wallach and Allen 2008, Lin et al. 2012). Similarly, there is a burgeoning literature on the various kinds of threat that future AIs might pose to human beings (e.g. Bostrom 2017). Less well-advanced is the philosophical examination of when and how Artificial Intelligences might themselves have moral standing — a nascent field we might call Robot Rights (see Gunkel 2018). When this issue is addressed in the literature, the focus is typically on the question of whether and to what extent future AI’s might have genuine sentience and/or powers of thought, and the degree to which this will endow AI’s with moral rights. Bostrom and Yudkowsky, for example, propose the following Principle of (Ontogenic) Non-Discrimination: “If two beings have the same functionality and the same consciousness experience, and differ only in how they came into existence, then they have the same moral status” (2014, 322). David Gunkel characterizes this approach as an extension of the animal rights debate, and criticizes it for reducing AIs and animals “to some common denominator by progressively lowering the level of abstraction so that what had been different can come to be incorporated within the community of the same” (2012, 156). Other approaches (e.g. Floridi and Sanders 2004) propose an account of moral responsibility for AIs that is quite deflationary about their prospective moral standing, reducing to “conditions under which deletion of data is morally advisable (e.g. garbage collection of redundant data…); and conditions when it is not (deletion of critical data not backed up)” (2004, 371), even for morally accountable systems. In this paper I investigate a third avenue towards the moral standing of AIs, drawing on the connection between personal identity, selfhood and ethical status (e.g. Shoemaker 2008). That is, I consider what it might be for an AI to be a self and propose this as a criterion—and a constraint—for that AI to have similar moral standing to other selves, such as human beings. I consider psychological continuity views but also bodily views (what are often question-beggingly called biological views in the literature), and argue that, in at least some cases, well-known accounts that work well for human beings ought to apply in a parallel manner to sufficiently complex AIs.

Bostrom, N., and E. Yudkowsky, “The Ethics of Artificial Intelligence,” Cambridge Handbook of Artificial Intelligence, eds. Ramsey and Frankish, CUP 2014 Bostrom, N., Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies, OUP 2107 Floridi, L., and J.W. Sanders, “On the Morality of Artificial Agents,” Minds and Machines 14: 349–379, (2004) Gunkel, D.J., The Machine Question, MIT Press 2012 ---, Robot Rights, MIT Press 2018 Lin, P., K. Abney and G. Bekey (eds.), Robot Ethics, MIT Press, 2012. Shoemaker, D., Personal Identity and Ethics, Broadview Press 2008 Wallach, W., and C. Allen, Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right From Wrong, OUP 2008

Thou, Robot
DISCUSSANT: Katherine Mackay

ABSTRACT. By and large, recent efforts in artificial intelligence have focused on creating systems for performing certain kinds of physical or cognitive labour. Computer vision applications detect the presence of abnormalities in medical images, factory automation replaces human labourers on the assembly line, and dialogue systems like Google Duplex threaten to replace human secretaries. Like any other extant technology, such systems can be owned, bought, and sold; and there is no question as to their dignity, their rights, or their obligations. This essay will address another kind of artificial intelligence project, one which is familiar to the popular imagination, but which does not seem to be being pursued, nor has it entered much into ethical discussion. This is the attempt to create artificial persons—beings like ourselves in all of the respects relevant to personhood. There is not a consensus on the conditions for personhood, but persons are plausibly at least conscious; and can be subject to moral praise, blame, and guilt. If the capacity to love and the capacity to suffer are essential characteristics of persons, then an artificial person would have these capacities, too. What unique ethical questions does this kind of project raise? Many—more than I can survey over the course of this essay. In this paper, I will discuss three aspects of this project which I believe need to be addressed. Each of these considerations is a consequence of taking seriously aspects of human life and the human experience, which I believe are integral to personhood. First, persons relate to other persons in unique and meaningful ways. We need to take seriously the fact that the beings we will create are not only beings we can have meaningful interpersonal encounters with, but who are themselves capable of meaningful encounters with us and with each other, in exactly the same relevant sense. Second, artificial persons, like human persons, will be creatures of import. That is to say, they will be the kinds of beings to whom things matter, who care about other persons and life projects, to whom events and circumstances have import. Third, artificial persons, like human persons, will be creatures with their own existential questions. These beings will be in a position to do what humans can only dream of in this life—they will be in a position to directly ask their creator “why did you create us?” All three of these considerations will both make clearer the nature and implications of person-building projects, and raise new topics for ethical deliberation.