Classical Chinese: Text, Philosophy, Language Workshop with Professor Christoph Harbsmeier

You are cordially invited to the Classical Chinese: Text, Philosophy, Language Workshop with Professor Christoph Harbsmeier organized by Associate Professor Loy Hui-Chieh on 21st and 22th January 2019 at the Wan Boo Sow Research Centre for Chinese Culture, NUS FASS AS8-05-49.

There will be three sessions in the workshop:

Session 1: On Current Dating of the Analects in the US (Mon 21 Jan, 10-12)

Session 2: A New Reading of Zhuangzi and his Commentators  (Mon 21 Jan 1-3)

Session 3: The Introduction to 馬氏文通 and the History of Chinese Grammar” On the Zuozhuan (Tue 2-4) (title updated)

As lunch and refreshments will be provided, please RSVP by 18 Jan 2019 at

About the speaker: Christoph Harbsmeier is Professor Emeritus at the University of Oslo. He also holds honorary professorships at Peking University, Fudan University (Shanghai), Wuhan University, Zhejiang University, Shanghai Normal University, and East China Normal University. His main work is in the history of science (logic), conceptual history, historical linguistics, and modern Chinese Cartoons.

Sponsored by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, National University of Singapore. Special thanks to the Wan Boo Sow Research Centre for Chinese Culture for granting the use of their facilities.

See photos from the last workshop with Prof Harbsmeier here.

ASEMP 2019

Australasian Seminar in Early Modern Philosophy 2019

Brisbane, November 25-27, 2019

Call for abstracts

The University of Queensland is delighted to host the second Australasian Seminar in Early Modern Philosophy (ASEMP), in Brisbane, Australia, from November 25th to 27th, 2019.

An optional extended stay from November 28th through to December 1st is planned for the island of Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island or colloquially, “Straddie”).

Invited Speakers:

Professor Lilli Alanen (Uppsala University)

Professor Marguerite Deslauriers (McGill University)

Professor John Carriero (University of California, Los Angeles)

Professor Calvin Normore (University of California, Los Angeles)

Professor Margaret Schabas (University of British Columbia)

For this conference, we seek papers on those early modern concepts, theories, or figures that transformed standard ways of thinking in the period, or that changed the form and nature of philosophy itself.

The panel themes are

(1) Women and Power; (2) Metaphysics, Science and Religion; and (3) State and Secularism, and papers fitting those themes are encouraged.

Papers on other topics relating to the broad theme of Transformations in Early Modern Philosophy are also welcome.

Deadline for Abstracts: March 1, 2019. Successful participants will be notified by April 1, 2019.

Abstract length: 500 words.

In Search of Reasons to Care about Morality by Han Yongming

In Search of Reasons to Care about Morality

C.P. Ellis was once a hate-filled leader of a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. But he recants his racial bigotry after co-organizing a forum on educational desegregation, a forum at which he comes to see that what his society’s ideology had taught him about blacks was deeply mistaken. Not long after that, he becomes a civil rights activist and organizer for a union of mostly black women workers.

Examples like Ellis’ have been taken to suggest that we can come to care (or stop caring) about morally relevant things *for* reasons — that moral cares, in short, are responses to reasons. That is what theorists like Michael Smith, Stephen Darwall, Derek Parfit, and T. M. Scanlon hold. I’ll argue, however, that we can explain the ways in which such cares might seem reason-responsive, even if we hold that they are not based on reasons. Indeed, doing so gives us better, because simpler, explanations of the data.

Date: 10 January 2019, Thursday
Time: 2pm to 3.30pm
Venue: Philosophy Resource Room (AS3-05-23)

About the Speaker:
Yongming is a philosophy graduate student at Brown University; his undergraduate work was done at NUS. His main research area is moral philosophy (especially moral psychology and metaethics), though he also has substantial interests in the philosophy of mind/language. His teaching interests include critical reasoning and introductory logic (and the ways in which the teaching and learning of these subjects can be informed by psychological research and facilitated by technology).

All are welcome

“Objective Rights and Epistemic Risks” by Renee Jorgensen Bolinger

Objective Rights and Epistemic Risks

This paper argues that our understanding of objective rights must be sensitive to agents’ epistemic limitations. On one popular understanding (which I call the `full-information fact-relative’ interpretation), considerations about ignorance are relevant only to the `subjective permissibility’ of an act, affecting culpability but not whether an act is a rights-violation. Against this view, I argue that subjective permissibility is not an adequate answer to the problems that agent ignorance poses for the deliberative and distributive roles of moral rights. If rights are to fill the theoretical role assigned to them, they must issue fact-relative permissions that are at least somewhat sensitive to agents’ evidential and epistemic limitations.

Date: 16 October 2018, Tuesday
Time: 2pm to 4pm
Venue: Philosophy Resource Room (AS3-05-23)

About the Speaker:
Renee Bolinger, ( Ph.D., USC (2017) is a postdoctoral researcher in the School of Philosophy at Australian National University, and will join Princeton University in September 2019, as an Assistant Professor of Politics and the University Center for Human Values. Her primary research interests are in moral and political philosophy. Her current work concerns the ethics of risk, just war, moral rights under uncertainty (especially in self-defence), hate speech, and the political import of various informal social norms.

All are welcome

“Rights Enable Agency” by Siegfried Van Duffel

The debate over the nature of rights has become quite sophisticated in the last two decades. Until recently, it was predominantly the territory of adherents of Interest Theory and Will Theory, each defending the merits of their own account and highlighting the shortcomings of rival theories. Many now see the debate as having ended in a stand-off and increasingly philosophers are becoming convinced that the truth about rights must be found elsewhere— perhaps in a hybrid of both theories.

In this talk I will present a new conceptual analysis of rights, and I shall show that it combines the virtues of existing theories while avoiding all of their shortcomings as well as some that have gone largely unnoticed. An additional advantage of my analysis is that it explains why the debate over the nature of rights has taken the form we have been able to witness. I will suggest that rights enable agency and that they do so in two distinct ways.

Date: 11 October 2018, Monday
Time: 2pm to 4pm
Venue: Philosophy Resource Room (AS3-05-23)

About the Speaker:
Siegfried Van Duffel was trained as a philosopher and completed a Ph.D. in law at Ghent University (Belgium). Before coming to Nazarbayev University, he taught ethics and Political Theory at the University of Groningen (the Netherlands) and the University of Hong Kong. He also held post-doc positions at the National University of Singapore and the Center of Excellence in Philosophical Psychology, Morality and Politics of the University of Helsinki and was visiting associate professor at Huafan University and National Taiwan University.

Siegfried’s main research interest is cultural differences, which is why he felt it necessary to leave Europe and continue living and working in a non-Western society. His current project is to complete a book on human rights and cultural differences. The aim of this book is to describe human rights theories as an aspect of the culture in which they were developed. He also hopes to do comparative empirical research on intuitions related to human rights. His work was published in international peer-reviewed journals such as The Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, The Journal of Political Philosophy, The Monist, and The European Journal of Philosophy.

All are welcome

“Losing Confidence in Luminosity” by Simon Goldstein and coauthored with Dan Waxman

A mental state is luminous if, whenever an agent is in that state, they are in a position to know that they are. Following Williamson 2000, a wave of recent work has explored whether any interesting mental states are luminous. One powerful argument against luminosity comes from the connection between knowledge and confidence: that if an agent knows p, then p is true in any nearby world where she has a similar level of confidence in p. Unfortunately, the relevant notion of confidence in the principle above is relatively underexplored.

In this paper, we remedy this gap, providing a precise theory of confidence: an agent’s degree of confidence in p is the objective chance they will act in ways that satisfy their desires if p. We use this theory of confidence to propose a variety of interesting constraints on knowledge. We argue that knowledge is not luminous, but for quite different reasons than the existing literature has considered.

Date: 17 September 2018, Monday
Time: 3pm to 5pm
Venue: Philosophy Resource Room (AS3-05-23)

About the Speaker:
Simon is a philosophy professor at Lingnan University in Hong Kong. He completed his PhD in philosophy at Rutgers University. His research is about the semantics and logic of modals and conditionals.

All are welcome

ISPD (2018): Knowledge

The Inter-School Philosophy Dialogue (ISPD) is an annual event which the philosophy programs of Raffles Institution and Raffles Girls’ School take turns to organize and host, with the sponsorship of the Department of Philosophy at NUS. Throughout the years, an increasing number of schools have participated in the event. This year, the 15th anniversary of the event, was held at Raffles Institution with 12 schools represented and some 171 secondary level students participating. They were joined by 25 facilitators, many of whom are alumni of the Department of Philosophy at NUS. Our own A/P Loy Hui Chieh gave the keynote address on Plato’s the Ring of Gyges (Republic II).

The theme this year is “Knowledge”, a theme that expresses the aims and ideals of the ISPD – to encourage students from schools all over Singapore to think more deeply about real and current issues we face in Singapore society as well as universal concepts such as fairness and truth. While participants may come away with more questions than answers to the scenarios posed to them, sparking an interest in the issues as well as introducing better ways to navigate difficult topics are definite take-aways that students bring back with them. At the end of the day’s event, 15 students—chosen for the maturity of thought, creativity, metacognitive awareness, and conversational virtues they exhibited during the discussions—were presented with the Gadfly Awards (named in honor of Socrates).

Photos from the event can be seen here.

“Confirmation and Aboutness” by Dr Richard Dietz

Confirmation and Aboutness

Stephen Yablo (2014) makes a case for a revisionist version of confirmation theory. Like in earlier proposals in this spirit (Fred Dretske (1972), Peter Achinstein (1983, 2001)), it is suggested that facts of evidential support are sensitive to what hypotheses are about. In this talk, it will be argued that the Dretske-Achinstein-Yablo line misfires on two accounts. It goes wrong in misdescribing the extent to which judgements of confirmation are sensitive to subject matter. And it goes wrong in aiming to explain subject-matter-sensitivity effects as a feature of confirmation itself, and not merely of linguistic ways of framing judgements of confirmation.

Date: 30 August 2018
Time: 2pm to 4pm
Venue: Philosophy Resource Room (AS3-05-23)

About the Speaker:
Dr Richard Dietz obtained his doctoral degree in Philosophy from the University of Oxford in 2005. He is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the recently launched International College of Liberal Arts at Yamanashi Gakuin University. Beforehand, he held positions as postdoctoral researcher at the University of St Andrews, UNAM, and KU Leuven, and as a Lecturer at the University of Tokyo. Currently, he is also on a Humboldt Research Fellowship for Experienced Researchers, which is hosted by the University of Hamburg. His current projects all focus on problems on the interface between formal epistemology and the philosophy of language & cognition broadly conceived.

All are welcome

Surviving, to Some Degree by Kristie Miller

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

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