“Sosa’s Safety, Halloween Party and the Backward Clock” & “Moore’s Paradox for God” by John Williams

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Sosa’s Safety, Halloween Party and the Backward Clock

Abstract:
I first review various early safety conditions originating with Sosa, showing that each is unsatisfactory. Next I show that that contrary to Comesaña and McBride, Halloween Party is not a counterexample to Sosa’s disjunctive safety condition. However Backward Clock shows that this condition is too weak. It also shows that McBride’s modification to Sosa’s disjunctive safety condition is too weak. Then I examine ways of supplementing or modifying safety conditions, showing that these are dead ends. I conclude that an analysis of knowledge in terms of safety conditions appears unpromising. I end by analysing Halloween Party as a case of lucky knowledge, that is, knowledge that one could easily have not had, rather than an easily false belief.

Moore’s Paradox for God

Abstract:
I argue that ‘Moore’s paradox for God’, I do not believe this proposition shows that nobody can be both omniscient and rational in all her beliefs. I then anticipate and rebut three objections to my argument.

Keywords:
Omniscience, rationality, self-reference, Moore’s paradox, belief, knowledge

Date: 19 October 2017
Time: 2pm to 4pm
Venue: Philosophy Meeting Room (AS3-05-23)

About the Speaker:
John N. Williams is an Associate Professor in Philosophy at the School of Social Sciences, Singapore Management University. He received his Ph.D. from Hull University, UK. His research interests include paradoxes, theory of knowledge, philosophy of religion and applied ethics. His research has been published in Acta Analytica, American Philosophical Quarterly, Analysis, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Journal of Philosophy, Journal of Philosophical Research, Logos and Episteme, Mind, Philosophia, Philosophy East and West, Philosophy Compass, Philosophical Studies, Religious Studies, Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective, Synthese, and Theoria. He is a co-editor of Moore’s Paradox: New Essays on Belief, Rationality and the First Person, Oxford University Press 2007.

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Deontological Decision Theory and the Grounds of Subjective Permissibility by Seth Lazar

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Deontological Decision Theory and the Grounds of Subjective Permissibility

Abstract:
What grounds deontological judgements of subjective permissibility? In virtue of what is an act subjectively permissible or impermissible? I will consider two possibilities: verdicts of objective permissibility; and objective moral reasons. On the first approach, subjective permissibility aims to optimally satisfy objective permissibility, given our uncertainty. On the second approach, subjective permissibility aims to optimally satisfy our objective moral reasons, given our uncertainty. An account of subjective permissibility adopts the verdicts approach if it takes objective verdicts as inputs. One example: ‘minimise expected objective wrongness’ (Graham [2010]; Olsen [2017]). The reasons approach is naturally associated with: ‘maximise expected objective deontic value’ (Colyvan et al. [2010]; Oddie and Milne [1991]). I will argue that the reasons approach is right, but that we have to put more of the ‘deontological’ into ‘deontological decision theory’, and rely less on the model of orthodox rational decision theory.

Date: 18 September 2017
Time: 2pm to 4pm
Venue: Malay Studies Conference Room (AS8-06-46)

About the Speaker:
Seth Lazar is an Associate Professor, and Head of the School of Philosophy, in the Research School of Social Sciences at the Australian National University. He writes on topics in political philosophy, and normative and applied ethics. In his last book, Sparing Civilians (Oxford, 2015), he defended the protection of civilians in war against political and philosophical threats that have arisen in recent years. He is editor of the Oxford Handbook of Ethics of War (Oxford, 2016), and The Morality of Defensive War (Oxford, 2014). His papers have appeared in Ethics (2009, 2015, 2017), Philosophy & Public Affairs (2010, 2012), Australasian Journal of Philosophy (2015), Nous (2017), Philosophical Studies (2017), and other leading philosophy and political science journals. His current project focuses on how deontologists can make decisions under risk and uncertainty. He is working on a book, provisionally called ‘Duty Under Doubt: Deontological Decision-Making with Imperfect Information’.

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“Two Sides of Positional Goods” by Daniel Halliday

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Two Sides of Positional Goods

Abstract:
Positional goods typically serve to ration access to some distinct good whose supply cannot easily be increased. A standard example is the rationing of educational credentials as a means of allocating competitive advantage in the labor market. Political philosophy tends to recognize that positional goods gain their instrumental value from certain facts about how relevant scarce goods are made accessible. Our contention is that the significance of this fact has been insufficiently explored, particularly with respect to education. In general, the focus of philosophers has been somewhat one sided: Much has been said about the role of children and their parents where educational competition is concerned, with little said about the role of players on the ‘other side’, principally employers and educational institutions. Our aim in this paper is to develop a more sophisticated understanding of positional competition that is more balanced with respect to the role of players on both sides. We use the analysis developed to evaluate some influential claims about justice in the distribution of educational resources.

Date: 26 October 2017
Time: 2pm to 4pm
Venue: Philosophy Meeting Room (AS3-05-23)

About the Speaker:
Daniel Halliday works mainly on topics at the intersection of political philosophy and economics, with a special focus on markets, taxation, and inequality. His monograph The Inheritance of Wealth: Justice, Equality, and the Right to Bequeath is currently forthcoming with Oxford University Press. Dan is also working on a co-authored textbook about the moral foundations of capitalism. He has a PhD in philosophy from Stanford University, and has been teaching at Melbourne University since completing graduate school in 2011.

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‘Lewis, Holton, de se belief and Twin Earth’ by Frank Jackson

Lewis, Holton, de se belief and Twin Earth

Abstract:
The talk is about how to understand the central idea in David Lewis’s well-known paper “Attitudes De Dicto and De Se”. When so understood, we can see why the concerns raised (understandably) by Richard Holton in ‘Primitive Self-Ascription: Lewis on the De Se’, In Loewer, B and Schaffer J (eds) 2015 A Companion to David Lewis. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 399-412 are mistaken. I will conclude with comments on implications for Twin Earth. I will not presume familiarity with either paper.

Date: 31 August 2017
Time: 2pm to 4pm
Venue: Philosophy Meeting Room (AS3-05-23)

About the Speaker:
Frank Jackson is Lim Chong Yah visiting professor at The National University of Singapore, and an Emeritus Professor at The Australian National University. His books include From Metaphysics to Ethics, and Language, Names, and Information.

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“Hume’s Imagistic Theory of Ideas” by Jonathan Cottrell

Superintelligence, Simulations and Moral Status

Abstract:
Many early modern philosophers hold that thinking involves having “ideas” that represent the objects of one’s thoughts. Some of these philosophers also hold that we have two intrinsically different kinds of ideas, deriving from two different mental faculties: ideas formed through the “imagination,” and ideas formed through the “pure understanding” or “pure intellect.” Hume accepts the first of these claims, but rejects the second. In his view, thinking involves having representational ideas. But we have no ideas of the kind that were attributed to the supposed faculty of pure understanding or intellect. Instead, all of our ideas are of the same intrinsic kind: they are all imagistic, in that they qualitatively resemble and ultimately derive from impressions—the materials of our sensory and emotional experiences—and their impression-like qualitative character plays a role in determining, and constraining, what they represent. This imagistic theory of ideas plays a crucial role in Hume’s philosophy. So, it is important to ask what reasons he has for adopting it. His official arguments for it seem disappointing: they have premises that seem easy for his philosophical opponents to reject. In this paper, I aim to show that the Treatise contains the premises of a more interesting and challenging argument for Hume’s imagistic theory of ideas, which is based partly on his naturalistic view of representation, and partly on his views about introspection.

Date: 17 August 2017
Time: 2pm to 4pm
Venue: Philosophy Meeting Room (AS3-05-23)

About the Speaker:
Jonny Cottrell is an Assistant Professor in the Philosophy Department at Wayne State University. He specializes in early modern philosophy, especially British philosophy. His work has appeared in The Philosophical Review and the Journal of the History of Philosophy. He has a B.A. in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Balliol College, Oxford, and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from New York University.

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The Philosophy Party 2017

NUS Philosophy held its fifth annual departmental party–The Philosophy Party–on 5th May 2017. Following last year’s precedence, the event was scheduled for the last day of the exam period. this year’s celebration saw the attendance of around 50 guests including undergraduates and graduate students, alumni, and department staff.

The festivities started with an opening speech filled with personal anecdotes by A/P John Holbo, who spoke of his own philosophical journey and his time in NUS. Dinner lines were opened shortly after, and as with all of our parties, a variety of mouthwatering dishes were provided. This year’s party saw a change in caterer: the party committee went for Peranakan cuisine from Chilli padi. Ranging from servings of authentic laska to kueh dada, each dish was carefully picked out to suit the needs of all our guests.

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In defence of an extramission theory of visual cognition, or what’s wrong with Cartesian representationalism by Emeritus Professor Stephen Gaukroger

Abstract:
Theories of visual perception from Descartes onwards treat vision in terms of light entering the eye and being brought to a clear focus, the image formed then being interpreted by the brain. This kind of account is modelled on the optics of the telescope. But this gives rise to the problem that we are aware only of representations of things in the world, not of the things themselves. I argue that there is no philosophical solution to this problem. Rather the answer lies in abandoning the telescope model and adpoting something closer to an extramission theory.

Date: 2 June 2017
Time: 2pm to 4pm
Venue: Philosophy Meeting Room (AS3-05-23)

About the Speaker:
Stephen Gaukroger received his BA (hons) in philosophy, with congratulatory first class honours, from the University of London in 1974, and his PhD, in history and philosophy of science, from the University of Cambridge in 1977. He was a Research Fellow at Clare Hall Cambridge, and then at the University of Melbourne, before joining the Philosophy Department at Sydney in 1981. In 2011, he moved to the Unit for History and Philosophy of Science. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, a Fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and a Corresponding Member of l’Académie Internationale d’Histoire des Sciences. In 2003 he was awarded the Australian Centenary Medal for contributions to history of philosophy and history of science. His work has been translated into Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Serbian.

 

 

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Can we Build a Consciousness Meter? by Tim Bayne

Can we Build a Consciousness Meter?

Abstract:
One of the central challenges facing the science of consciousness is that of identifying ways of measuring consciousness. Can we go beyond our pre-theoretical ways of detecting consciousness and develop measures that are independently validated? Some theorists think not, and argue that we are necessarily restricted to the pre-theoretical markers of consciousness with which we begin. Other theorists are more optimistic, and think that we will be able to develop independent measures of consciousness. In this talk I critically examine one proposal for how to identify measures of consciousness—the natural kind approach—and ask whether it can be reconciled with various widely-held commitments in the philosophy of mind.

Date: 4 May 2017
Time: 2pm to 5pm
Venue: Philosophy Meeting Room (AS3-05-23)

About the Speaker:
Tim Bayne is a philosopher of mind and cognitive science, with a particular interest in the nature of consciousness. He completed an undergraduate degree in Philosophy and Religious Studies at the University of Otago (New Zealand), and a Ph.D in Philosophy at the University of Arizona. He has taught at Macquarie University, the University of Western Ontario, the University of Manchester and the University of Oxford.  He is currently Professor of Philosophy at Monash University in Melbourne Australia. He is an editor of the Oxford Companion to Consciousness and the author of The Unity of Consciousness (OUP, 2010), Thought: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2013) and A Very Short Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion (OUP, 2017).

 

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