The York Philosophy Colloquium is run by the Department of Philosophy at the University of York. We meet most Wednesdays during term in the department’s seminar room SB/A009 in Sally Baldwin Building Block A, usually between 16:00 and 17:30. The colloquium is followed by drinks.
Programme 2016 / 2017
Arif Ahmed (Cambridge)
‘Belief and statistical evidence’
Hume's argument concerning miracles and the well-known gate-crasher paradox are both cases where people seem reluctant to believe something, or courts seem reluctant to convict someone, despite extremely strong statistical evidence that the thing is true or that the person is guilty. I propose to account for this in terms of some simple ideas from Signal Detection Theory. The upshot is that Hume is still right, but the courts may sometimes be wrong.
Anna Mahtani (LSE)
‘Arguments for Probabilism’
I examine both dutch book arguments and accuracy arguments for probabilism. On a natural interpretation of these arguments, they both invoke the idea of truth across possible worlds. I argue that on this natural interpretation of the arguments, they are better described as arguments for something analogous to the metaphysical necessity of probabilism, rather than for the conclusion that probabilism is rationally required. I suggest two different alternative ways of interpreting these arguments under which they seem better suited to argue for the claim that probabilism is a requirement of rationality.
Justin Snedegar (St. Andrews)
‘Reasons and Practical Inquiry’
I argue that normative reasons are question-relative. According to this view, whether some consideration is a reason for a given option depends on the deliberative question at issue. Given a standard theory of questions, this amounts to the claim that reasons are contrastive, or relativized to alternatives -- reasons for A rather than B, instead of reasons for A simpliciter. I proceed by first arguing for a particular view of deliberation, or practical inquiry. I support this view by showing how it elegantly accommodates Michael Bratman's observation that our plans and intentions are typically partial, and need to be filled in as the time for action approaches. I then argue that given this picture of deliberation and the role of reasons in deliberation, we should accept a question-relative, or contrastive, view of reasons.
Gerald Lang (Leeds)
‘Equality and Variation’
Liberal egalitarians often task themselves with answering the ‘equality of what?’ question: assuming we are equals, what should we distribute equally? But is that assumption reliable? What is it about us that makes it appropriate to distribute to each of us an equal amount of something-or-other? Theorists such as Ian Carter and Jeremy Waldron think that there is a fundamental category of equality, ‘basic equality’, which we should seek, and which, if found, can answer this question. Though tempting, I think the search for basic equality is wrongheaded, and I outline a number of serious reservations about it. These negative conclusions shed oblique but revealing light on what we should be looking for when investigating the foundations of human moral equality.
Tom Dougherty (Cambridge)
Does consent need to be expressed? According to the attitudinal view, a mental attitude can be sufficient for valid consent. I argue that the view is false on the grounds that consent is a form of authorisation and authorisation requires public expression. But although the attitudinal view is false, it contains an important insight: the consent-giver's attitudes are typically the most important determinants of how bad it is for the other person to act without valid consent.
Gail Leckie (Leeds)
‘Words by Convention’
January 25 (starts at 4:30 p.m.)
Elinor Mason (Edinburgh)
‘Taking Responsibility for Negligence’
Timothy Williamson (Oxford)
‘Aims and Norms of Belief’
Knowledge, truth, and rationality have all been proposed as norms of belief. There has also been debate about the logical structure of such norms. This exploratory talk will aim to clarify some of the issues.
Jonathan Tallant (Nottingham)
‘It’s One Thing to Rule Them All and Another Thing to Bind Them’
Richard Bradley (LSE)
‘What is Risk Aversion?’
John Wigglesworth (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München)
‘Indispensability Arguments and Mathematical Structuralism’
Enhanced indispensability arguments for mathematical realism aim to show that mathematical entities exist because they are indispensable for explanations of physical phenomena. While these arguments are generally taken to support realism about mathematical objects (platonism), I argue that they support realism about mathematical structures (structuralism). Any realist position, whether about mathematical objects or mathematical structures, must address Benacerraf's (1973) problem concerning our epistemic access to abstract mathematical entities. I argue that the structuralist is in a better position to address Benacerraf’s problem by appealing to a version of mathematical structuralism based on abstraction principles.
Jenefer Robinson (Cincinnati)
‘Emotion and Affective Empathy as Tools for Literary Appreciaition’
David Brink (UC San Diego)
‘Special Concern and Personal Identity’
May 3 (Workshop, starts at 1:30 p.m.)
Michael Devitt (CUNY)
Rob Trueman (York)
‘Substitution in a Sense’
Can we refer to properties with singular terms? Here is one argument that we can’t: properties are referred to by predicates, like ‘___ is a horse’, and singular terms cannot co-refer with predicates, because singular terms and predicates are not grammatically intersubstitutable. This argument relies on the Reference Principle: If two expressions co-refer, then they are everywhere intersubstitutable salva congruitate. Unfortunately, there are a number of counter-examples to this principle: ‘I’ and ‘me’, for example, co-refer (in any given context), and yet are not grammatically intersubstitutable. In this talk I will patch up the Reference Principle, and thus hopefully save the above argument: we cannot refer to properties with singular terms.
Alex Grzankowski (Birkbeck)
Richard Pettigrew (Bristol)
‘Choosing for changing selves’
What you value and the extent to which you value it changes over the course of your life. We make our decisions on the basis of what we believe about the world and what we value in the world. So: to which values should I appeal when making such a decision? My current values? My future values? My past values? Some amalgamation of them all --- past, present, and future --- perhaps with some of them given more weight than others? If this, then how are the weightings assigned? In this talk, I will explore a particular answer to these questions
Arnon Keren (Haiffa)
Barry Dainton (Liverpool)