Surviving, to Some Degree by Kristie Miller

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“Surviving, to Some Degree”
(jointly authored with David Braddon-Mitchell)

Abstract:
In this paper we argue that reflection on the patterns of practical concern that agents like us exhibit strongly suggests that the same person relation (SP-relation) comes in continuous degrees than being an all or nothing matter. We call this the SP-degree thesis. Though we argue that the SP-degree thesis is consistent with a range of views about personal-identity, we suggest that combining desire-first approaches to personal-identity with the SP-degree thesis better explains our patterns of practical concern. We then argue that the combination of the SP-degree thesis and the desire-first approach are best modelled by a stage-theoretic view of persistence according to which temporal counterpart relations are non-symmetric relations that come in continuous degrees.

Date: 27 June 2018, Wednesday
Time: 2pm to 4pm
Venue: Philosophy Resource Room (AS3-05-23)

About the Speaker:
Associate Professor Kristie Miller is joint director of the Centre for Time at the University of Sydney, and is currently an ARC Future Fellow. She works predominantly in metaphysics, on the nature of time and persistence.

All are welcome

Calling for Facilitators for Inter-School Philosophy Dialogue (ISPD) 2018

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(From the organizers)

Hello everyone,

The Inter-School Philosophy Dialogue (ISPD) turns 15 this year!

It will be held on 13th July (Friday), from 1500h to 1900h, in Raffles Institution.

The success of ISPD depends on our very helpful facilitators who are able to engage our participants in collaborative rational inquiry. NUS Philosophy students who are interested to be facilitators, email organisers, Ng Chong Jin / Ong Shu Juin at: philosophyraffles@gmail.com

More information will be sent closer to the date of the event.

Lastly, if you know of anyone who is Philosophy-trained and is an experienced facilitator, and would like to join us for ISPD, please feel free to forward the above link to them.

We look forward to meeting all of you at our annual gathering and hope to see everyone at ISPD.

 

Workshop In Honour of John Williams: To Celebrate His Retirement From SMU

Workshop In Honour of John Williams:To Celebrate His Retirement From SMU

Date: 30 May 2018, Wednesday
Time: 10am to 4pm
Venue: Philosophy Resource Room (AS3-05-23)

10am to 11.30am : John Williams, SMU, “Once You Think You’re Wrong, You Must Be Right: New Versions of the Preface Paradox”

Some take the view that the so-called ‘preface paradox’ shows that rationality may allow you to have inconsistent beliefs, in contradiction of orthodox views of justification. Here argue for the conclusion that rationality may require you, as a real human thinker, to have inconsistent beliefs, even when you recognize the inconsistency. Perhaps the most vigorous opposition to my conclusion comes from classical and insightful objections by Doris Olin. After preliminary clarification, I first discuss three versions of the paradox. These are Makinson’s Original Version, my World Capitals and Olin’s Fallibility. For each version, I consider objections that my conclusion does not get established. None of the three versions is entirely free from objection. I show that there is an important mistake in Makinson’s logic that seems to have long gone unnoticed, with the result that his original case is one in which your beliefs are not inconsistent. The case may be modified to evade this difficulty but then it is doubtful that it is realistic. World Capitals avoids this difficulty but is vulnerable to Olin’s objection—one that she makes against her own version, Fallibility—that accepting the possibility of justified inconsistent beliefs saddles you with a pair of justified beliefs that are in explicit contradiction. However I present Modesty, a version that supposes that you believe that at least one of your beliefs (excluding this) is false. I argue that this version escapes all the objections that could trouble the other versions as well as some interesting general objections that Olin makes. I conclude that this is a living and everyday case in which rationality requires you to have inconsistent beliefs even while you recognize that your beliefs are inconsistent. I also argue more tentatively for the same verdict for Modesty*, a version that supposes that you believe that at least one of your beliefs (including this) is false.

About the Speaker:
John N. Williams (PhD Hull) works primarily in epistemology. He also works in philosophy of language and applied ethics. He has published in Mind, Analysis, the Journal of Philosophy, the Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Synthese, Philosophical Studies, Acta Analytica, Philosophia, Philosophy East and West, American Philosophical Quarterly, Philosophy, Philosophy Compass, the Journal of Philosophical Research, Religious Studies, Theoria, Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective and Logos and Episteme. He is co-editor of Moore’s Paradox: New Essays on Belief, Rationality and the First Person, Oxford University Press together with Mitchell Green. He researches and teaches in the School of Social Sciences, Singapore Management University and before that taught in the Philosophy Department at the National University of Singapore and was Head of the Unit of Philosophy at the University of the West Indies. In August he will take up a Professorship in Philosophy at Nazarbayev University in Kazakhstan.

11.30am to 12.30pm : Robert Beddor, NUS, “Modal Conditions on Knowledge and Skilled Performance”

In the talk I examine two prominent analyses of knowledge in the current literature. One is a modal analysis, which identifies knowledge with safe belief. The other is a virtue epistemological analysis, which identifies knowledge with a type of apt performance. These two approaches are usually viewed as rivals; this talk offers a path to reconciliation. I outline a new form of virtue epistemology, which combines an analysis of knowledge as skillful performance with a modal analysis of skillfulness. I argue that the resulting view – “Modal Virtue Epistemology” – preserves the main benefits of both analyses.

2pm to 3pm : Tang Weng Hong, NUS, “Moore’s Paradox and Degrees of Belief”

It is absurd to assert or to believe the following:
(1) It’s raining, and I do not believe that it’s raining.
(2) It’s raining, and I believe that it’s not raining.
But is merely assigning a degree of belief greater than 0.5 to (1) or to (2) absurd? I maintain, along with Adler and Armour-Garb (2007), that (a) assigning a degree of belief greater than 0.5 to (1) need not be absurd. But I also maintain that (b) assigning a degree of belief greater than 0.5 to (2) is indeed absurd. What explains this discrepancy? Adler and Armour-Garb think that (a) can be explained by their view that full beliefs are transparent whereas partial beliefs are not. But such a view does not explain (b). In my talk, I consider John’s account of why it is absurd to believe (1) and to believe (2). (See, in particular, ‘Moore’s Paradoxes, Evans’s Principle and Self Knowledge’.) I also consider how John’s account may be supplemented to help us account for the aforementioned discrepancy.


3pm to 4pm : Ben Blumson, NUS, “Knowability and Believability”

Moore’s paradox in belief and Fitch’s paradox of knowability are very closely related – whereas the first concerns whether when truths of the form “p and I don’t believe p” are believable (without absurdity), the second concerns whether truths of the form “p and it’s not known that p” are knowable. In this paper, I consider how and whether responses to Moore’s paradox constrain the correct response to Fitch’s paradox, and vice versa. Finally, I discuss implications for metaphysical anti-realism.

All are welcome

On A Theory of a Better Morality by Geoffrey Sayre-McCord

On A Theory of a Better Morality

Abstract:
Normally, there is a sharp distinction between a better theory of X and a theory of a better X. That the theory of a better X is a theory according to which things are different from the way one’s (so far) best theory says they are is (normally) no reason whatsoever to think one’s (so far) best theory is wrong, just reason to wish X were different (and, if it is possible, reason to work to change X). That it would be better if all everyone were treated as equals is no reason whatsoever to think that they are; that it would be better that death came quickly, painlessly, and late in life is no reason whatsoever to think it does; that it would be better if we could fly is no reason whatsoever to think that we can…
In contrast (I maintain) when the subject matter is normative, this normally sharp distinction is elided and the difference between one’s theory of the best X (the best morality, the best standards of inference, the best rules of justification…) and one’s (so far) best theory of X necessarily provides a reason (though perhaps not a decisive reason) to think one’s (so far) best theory is wrong.
The elision plays an essential role in a range of arguments concerning morality, practical rationality, and theoretical rationality, a few of which I discuss. Yet it smacks of depending crucially and unacceptably on wishful thinking – on supposing that the fact that things would be better if only they were a certain way provides some reason to think they are that way. As a result, it invites invocation of a restricted defense of “Wouldn’t it be nice that p, therefore p” reasoning. I think that the invitation should be resisted. The elision is to be defended, I argue, as a reflection of a constraint on acceptable normative theories that is itself explained by a distinctive characteristic of normative concepts that sets them all apart from descriptive concepts.

Date: 28 May 2018, Monday
Time: 2pm to 4pm
Venue: Philosophy Resource Room (AS3-05-23)

About the Speaker:
Geoffrey Sayre-McCord works at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he is the Morehead-Cain Alumni Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and the Director of the University’s Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Program. Professor Sayre-McCord works primarily in metaethics, moral theory, and the history of moral philosophy.

All are welcome

Most Counterfactuals Are Still False by Alan Hajek

Most Counterfactuals Are Still False

Abstract:
I have long argued for a kind of ‘counterfactual skepticism’: most counterfactuals are false. I maintain that the indeterminism and indeterminacy associated with most counterfactuals entail their falsehood. For example, I claim that these counterfactuals are both false:
(Indeterminism) If the chancy coin were tossed, it would land heads.
(Indeterminacy) If I had a son, he would have an even number of hairs on his head at his birth.
And I argue that most counterfactuals are relevantly similar to one or both of these, as far as their truth-values go. I also have arguments from the incompatibility of ‘would’ and ‘might not’ counterfactuals, and from Heim (‘reverse Sobel’) sequences.
However, counterfactual reasoning seems to play an important role in science, and ordinary speakers judge many counterfactuals that they utter to be true. A number of philosophers have defended our judgments against counterfactual skepticism. David Lewis and others appeal to ‘quasi-miracles’; Robbie Williams to ‘typicality’; John Hawthorne and H. Orri Stefánsson to ‘counterfacts’, primitive counterfactual facts; Moritz Schulz to an arbitrary-selection semantics; Jonathan Bennett and Hannes Leitgeb to high conditional probabilities; Karen Lewis to contextually-sensitive ‘relevance’.
I argue against each of these proposals. A recurring theme is that they fail to respect certain valid inference patterns. I conclude: most counterfactuals are still false.

Date: 25 May 2018, Friday
Time: 2pm to 4pm
Venue: Philosophy Resource Room (AS3-05-23)

About the Speaker:
Alan Hájek studied statistics and mathematics at the University of Melbourne (B.Sc. (Hons). 1982), where he won the Dwight Prize in Statistics. He took an M.A. in philosophy at the University of Western Ontario (1986) and a Ph.D. in philosophy at Princeton University (1993), winning the Porter Ogden Jacobus fellowship. He has taught at the University of Melbourne (1990) and at Caltech (1992-2004), where he received the Associated Students of California Institute of Technology Teaching Award (2004). He has also spent time as a visiting professor at MIT (1995), Auckland University (2000), and Singapore Management University (2005). Hájek joined the Philosophy Program at RSSS, ANU, as Professor of Philosophy in February 2005. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. He was the President of the Australasian Association of Philosophy, 2009-10.
Hájek’s research interests include the philosophical foundations of probability and decision theory, epistemology, the philosophy of science, metaphysics, and the philosophy of religion. His paper “What Conditional Probability Could Not Be” won the 2004 American Philosophical Association Article Prize for “the best article published in the previous two years” by a “younger scholar”. The Philosopher’s Annual selected his “Waging War on Pascal’s Wager” as one of the ten best articles in philosophy in 2003.

All are welcome

Consent and Intentions by Massimo Ranzo

Consent and Intentions

Abstract:
What does it take to give morally valid consent? This question, concerning the “ontology of consent,” has received significant attention in the news recently, primarily in relation to consent to sex. Following a number of high profile cases of sexual harassment and sexual assault scandals, a heated public debate was sparked in the media, with movements such as MeToo and Time’sUp calling, among other things, for new attention to the question of when someone can be said to have given valid consent to sex. I will suggest that to answer this question we need to consider why we value having the moral power to consent. There is an obvious connection between how the power operates and why we have the power to begin with, but this connection has been overlooked in the philosophical debate. I will try to make progress in articulating this connection by considering the role played by the consenter and by the recipient of consent in cases of morally valid consent.

Date: 26 April 2018
Time: 2pm to 4pm
Venue: Philosophy Resource Room (AS3-05-23)

About the Speaker:
Dr Massimo Renzo is a Reader in Politics, Philosophy & Law at the Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College London. Previously he was an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Warwick and before that a Lecturer at the York Law School. He has held visiting appointments at the Australian National University, the universities of Virginia and Arizona, the Centre for Ethics and Public Affairs at the Murphy Institute (Tulane University) and Osgoode Hall’s Nathanson Centre for Transnational Human Rights, Crime & Security. He is an affiliated researcher at the Stockholm Centre for the Ethics of War & Peace and the Honorary Secretary of the Society for Applied Philosophy. He is also one of the editors of the journal Criminal Law & Philosophy.

All are welcome

Graduate Research Seminar Talks by Jeremias Koh, Nicole Kuong and Farooq Jamil Alvi

Date:10 April 2018
Time: 2-5pm
Venue: Philosophy Resource Room (AS3-05-23)

2pm to 3pm: Jeremias Koh, NUS, “Scalarity Across Normative Domains”

Abstract:
In his paper “Scalar Consequentialism the Right way” (2017), Neil Sinhababu argues that ordinary thought supports the notion that the rightness of moral action is a scalar property, and develops a consequentialist theory that accounts for this. After briefly explaining the relevant aspects of Sinhababu’s arguments, I’ll consider how they can be combined with those made by Brian McElwee (2017) in “Supererogation Across Normative Domains”, as well as some implications of this combination for epistemic normativity.

About the speaker:
Jeremias is a Master’s student at the NUS Department of Philosophy. His current research interests are in moral philosophy. His broader interests include Chinese and political philosophy, philosophy of mind, and epistemology.

3pm to 4pm: Nicole Kuong, NUS, “Zarathustra’s reactive attitudes towards Eternal Recurrence”

Abstract:
“The most abysmal thought” and “the heaviest weight” are the words Nietzsche used to describe the doctrine of eternal recurrence. Although the doctrine is believed to give people an attitudinal orientation, it is presented as a cosmological thought in Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Within this narrative, the readers follow Zarathustra’s journey in coming to terms with this radical world view. It is the purpose of this paper to examine this highly emotional journey towards eternal recurrence, from its revelation to its final acceptance. Zarathustra’s emotions, although mentioned by scholars, are often overlooked for their significance in understanding the developmental process of his embracement of eternal recurrence and eventually becoming “the teacher” of this doctrine. I further draw a connection between Zarathustra’s emotional reactions in the narrative and Peter Strawson’s seminal theory of reactive attitudes. In doing so, it is my hope to tease out Nietzsche’s use of particular literary devices in order to construct an interpersonal framework that allows Zarathustra to fully commit to eternal recurrence, and eventually to love life.

About the speaker:
Nicole holds a Master’s degree in Philosophy and Literature from University of Warwick, UK. Her main research interests are in Nietzsche, philosophy of literature and Chinese philosophy. Other interests include ethics and continental philosophy.

4pm to 5pm: Farooq Jamil Alvi, NUS, “The phenomenal world of imagination”

Abstract:
The aim of my talk is to make a persuasive case for a crucial role of phenomenology within imagination. Specifically, I will argue that there can be no changes to what is imagined without a change in the phenomenology of that imagining. The representationalist framework of mind will serve as the basis for this thesis. Accordingly, I will argue my case by focusing on showing why we should consider it plausible to hold that the representational content of an imagining is derived from the phenomenal character of the imagining. This is a specific application of the Phenomenal Intentionality thesis to the act of imagination. I will further support this claim by investigating the Cognitive Phenomenology thesis as it applies to sensory phenomenology within imagination.

My purpose is to provide support to accounts of imagination that argue for the necessary nature of sensory phenomenology within imagination, such as the one advanced by Kind (2001). These are accounts of imagination with much controversy. I argue that this arises because such accounts are beset by a fundamental worry: if sensory phenomenology is inextricable from imagination, what exactly is its supposed role within an imagining? By focusing on phenomenology in general (not just of the sensory type), I contend that we will be able to diffuse this controversy and bring such theories of imagination on more stable footing.

The talk is based on a paper in progress and will provide ample opportunity for discussion. Given the subject, the talk intends to make use of a number of enticing metaphors and visual examples to illustrate the key points.

About the speaker:
Farooq has a cross-disciplinary background, with a Bachelor’s in Computer Engineering and nearly a decade in the corporate world focusing on market innovation and strategic communications. His interest in Philosophy stems from his desire to challenge the assumptions underlying much of his practical knowledge and experience. He aims to question the very questions that are considered answered in traditional empirical frameworks. His specific area of interest is Philosophy of Mind, with a current focus on phenomenal consciousness.

All are welcome

Epistemic Injustice and Language by Eric McCready

Abstract:
Epistemic injustice is recently much discussed in the philosophy literature, particularly testimonial injustice, where the credibility assigned to an agent’s speech does not conform with their actual credibility due to factors irrelevant to credibility, such as bias or stereotype. This talk focuses on the case of testimonial injustice due to gender. It provides experimental evidence for gender-based testimonial injustice on the basis of linguistic phenomena in English and Cantonese. Some strategies speakers use to address this kind of injustice are then addressed.

Date: 5 April 2018
Time: 2pm to 4pm
Venue: Philosophy Meeting Room (AS3-05-23)

About the Speaker:
Eric McCready holds a PhD in linguistics from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a Professor in the Department of English at Aoyama Gakuin University. Dr. McCready is the author of Reliability in Pragmatics (OUP) and many articles in semantics and pragmatics.

All are welcome

A Three-Dimensional Approach to Cooperation: Implications for Social Cognition by Anika Fiebich

A Three-Dimensional Approach to Cooperation: Implications for Social Cognition

Abstract:
The aim of my talk is twofold. First, I argue for cooperation as a three-dimensional phenomenon lying on the continua of (i) a behavioural axis, (ii) a cognitive axis, and (iii) an affective axis. Traditional accounts of joint action argue for cooperation as involving a shared intention. Developmental research has shown that such cooperation requires rather sophisticated social cognitive skills such as having a robust theory of mind – that is acquired not until age 4 to 5 in human ontogeny. However, also younger children are able to cooperate in various ways. This suggests that the social cognitive demands in joint action are a matter of degree, ranging from cognitively demanding cooperative activities involving shared intentions that presuppose sophisticated social cognitive skills such as having a theory of mind to basic joint actions like intentional joint attention. Moreover, any cooperative phenomenon can be located on a behavioural axis, ranging from complex coordinated behaviours (potentially determined by rules and roles) to basic coordinated behaviours such as simple turn-taking activities. Finally, cooperative activities may be influenced by (shared) affective states and agent-specificities. Hence, cooperation can be located on the continuum of an affective axis that is determined by the degree of ‘sharedness’ of the affective state in question. Second, I discuss the implications of the three-dimensional approach for social cognition. The main theories in the contemporary debate on social cognition argue for mental state attribution via folk psychological theories or simulation routines playing a key role in everyday social understanding, leading to a limited focus on those cooperative phenomena that presuppose sophisticated social cognitive competencies. Alternative approaches to social cognition, in turn, tend to overemphasize the role of social interaction in social cognition, leading to a limited focus on those cooperative phenomena that lie on a high point on the behavioural dimension. A pluralist theory of social understanding, by contrast, is able to capture the whole variety of cooperative phenomena and draws its assumptions on findings from social psychology that are neglected by traditional theories.

Date: 29 March 2018
Time: 2pm to 4pm
Venue: Philosophy Meeting Room (AS3-05-23)

About the Speaker:
Anika Fiebich is a postdoctoral research fellow of the Centre for the Study of Social Action (CSSA) at the University of Milan. After finishing her Ph.D. in philosophy at the Ruhr-University Bochum, she was a postdoctoral Humboldt fellow at the Departments of Philosophy of the University of Memphis, University of Wollongong and Duisburg-Essen University. Anika Fiebich is working on various topics in the philosophy of mind and action. In particular, she is interested in social cognition and defending a pluralist approach to the explanation of social understanding. At CSSA she is working on collective intentionality and minimal approaches to cooperation.

All are welcome

Honours Thesis Presentations by Ms Mary Ann Lim Hui Ming, Mr Teng Kuan Ping, Ms Yeo Jie Ling Zoey & Mr Yeo Xiao Feng Kaine – 15 March 2018, 2pm at AS3-05-23

2.00pm to 2.45pm
1st Presentation by Ms Mary Ann Lim Hui Ming

Title
The virtuous life, the just life and the good life: Examining eudaimonia in the Crito

Abstract
Ancient ethical Greek thought is commonly understood through its commitments to the concept of eudaimonism. As such an extensive amount of philosophical literature has been dedicated to examining the role of eudaimonia within Socratic thought, and its relation towards the virtues he directly addresses in the Socratic dialogues as chronicled by Plato.
However, while eudaimonism holds a substantial role in the arguments found within the Crito, there has been little scholarly work dedicated towards examining the specific function eudaimonism has in motivating Socrates’ arguments against why he should escape his inevitable death sentence.
As such, the main portion of my thesis hopes to provide an adequate interpretation of how readers might plausibly understand Socrates’ assertions of eudaimonistics in the Crito. More specifically I will examine these assertions through their relations with virtue that Socrates refers to in Crito, in attempting to provide a clearer picture of how these different relational interpretations might affect the larger arguments made in the Crito.

2.45pm to 3.30pm
2nd Presentation by Mr Teng Kuan Ping

Title
Is Rationality Empirically Testable?

Abstract
Violations of formal rules – for example, the probability axioms – are taken by some researchers to indicate a kind of human irrationality. The empirical results are said to provide evidence for this. But there are unresolved issues about the appropriate standard of rationality to use, about what counts as a good test, and about whether there can be one in the first place. I first clarify these issues, and then raise doubts about whether these tests can be done in a meaningful way.

3.30pm to 4.15pm
3rd Presentation by Ms Yeo Jie Ling Zoey

Title
Role or Virtue Ethics?
A critical rejoinder to Ames’ and Rosemont’s claim that role ethics is distinct from virtue ethics

Abstract
This thesis argues against Ames’ and Rosemont’s claim that role ethics, which they propose as an interpretation of Confucian ethics, is distinct from virtue ethics. in so doing, they argue against the dominant interpretation of Confucian ethics in recent philosophical literature as a form of virtue ethics. They chose to distance Confucian ethics from virtue ethics based on their construal of the latter on a familiar category of Western ethical theory – Aristotelian virtue ethics. However, the assumption that all forms of virtue ethics are theoretically equivalent to Aristotelian virtue ethics is groundless. Virtue ethics, as a genus, is able to accommodate role ethics as a species. This thesis is not concerned with whether Confucian ethics is best read as role ethics or virtue ethics; rather, this is a theoretical project aiming to show that role ethics is not conceptually distinct from virtue ethics and is, in fact, a variety of virtue ethics.

4.15pm to 5.00pm
4th Presentation by Mr Yeo Xiao Feng Kaine

Title
Responsibility without Volitional Control

Abstract
When are moral agents open to appropriate responses on the basis of what they do or how they are? That is, when are they morally responsible? Some believe that it is only when agents possess volitional control in some relevant way. Others disagree, for they believe that when an agent’s actions or states are indicative of the agent’s moral self, responsibility obtains even without volitional control. My project is threefold. First, I argue for the latter view over the former view. Next, I provide the strongest particular account of this view. Finally, I consider the implications of this account: for what might it consider us responsible?

All are welcome