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Posts under ‘Events’

“Sexual Difference and the Posthuman Future” by Rosallia Domingo (Nov 27)

Luce Irigaray declares that sexual difference is one of the major, if not the major, philosophical issue of our age. Acknowledging that an essential sexual difference exist between the two sexes, she claims, is needed in subverting the typical phallocentric representations of woman. While sexual difference is often associated with the anatomical differences between the sexes, its aim goes beyond differentiating the sexes through their anatomy. Rather, it is constructed for women to refrain from accepting men’s construction of them, to assert their difference, and to allow them to represent their own subjectivity. Addressing the question of sexual difference, she argued that we cannot see male and female as oppositional and different but each as constitutive of the other. However, for Donna Haraway, the feminist goal of reclaiming or disclaiming femininity cannot properly resolve the problem of women’s oppression. The goal is to break the polarities between the politics of sexual difference and radical separatism. As she claims, “…I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess.” A hybrid of “natural” organisms and artificial machine that humans create is what we are. Thus, as some envisage the fast approaching replacement of humanity with a new posthuman species, feminists not only consider questions on how sexual difference can actually affect our sense of human/machine divide but also the more important question of how sexual difference is likely to be removed by this divide in the posthuman future. This paper aims to discuss how such disappearance of sexual difference can both aid and hinder feminists in their goal of women’s empowerment. In dealing with this end, first, I discuss the different feminist perspectives on sexual difference vis-à-vis gender inequality. Second, I discuss the feminist debates on the possibility of the elimination of sexual difference in the posthuman future. In the third and last part of the paper, considering the feminist discussions on sexual difference, I discuss the implication of embracing post-biological concepts of the body and the self.

Philosophy Seminar Series
Date: Wednesday, 26 Nov 2014
Time: 2pm – 4pm
Venue: AS3 #05-23
Speaker: Rosallia Domingo, De La Salle University-Manila
Moderator: Dr. Tang Weng Hong

About the Speaker:

rosallia domingoRosallia Domingo is an assistant professorial lecturer at De La Salle University-Manila where she teaches Philosophy. She has an M.A. in Philosophy and is currently pursuing her doctoral studies in the same university. Her research is primarily in the areas of embodiment theory and feminist philosophy.

Workshop on Formal Epistemology (Nov 17-18)

Timetable:

Monday (17 Nov, 14)

1000-1030: Morning tea

1030-1200: Brian Kim (Bowdoin College), A Decision-Theoretic Epistemology: Pragmatic Encroachment and Gettier Cases

1200-1330: Lunch

1330-1500: Pavel Janda (University of Bristol), Accuracy—Difficulty of a Single-Number Credence Representation in Belnap’s Four-Valued Logic

1500-1530: Afternoon tea

1530-1700: Hanti Lin (Australian National University/ UC Davis), Conditionals and Actions: A Pragmatic Argument for Adams’ Logic of Conditionals

Tuesday (18 Nov, 14)

1000-1030: Morning tea

1030-1200: Lina Jansson (Nanyang Technological University), Everettian Quantum Mechanics and Probability: From Decisions to Chances?

1200-1330: Lunch

1330-1500: Weng Hong Tang (National University of Singapore), Reliabilism and Imprecise Credences

1500-1530: Afternoon tea

“Abstraction and Referential Indeterminacy” by Matthias Schirn (Nov 13)

In this talk, I shall critically discuss some issues related to Frege’s notion of logical object and his paradigms of second-order abstraction principles: Hume’s Principle and especially Axiom V. The focus is on the referential indeterminacy of value-range terms, Frege’s attempt to remove it as well as on his subsequent proof of referentiality for his formal language. Special attention will be paid to the assumptions that underly his overall strategy.

Philosophy Seminar Series
Date: Thursday, 13 Nov 2014
Time: 2pm – 4pm
Venue: AS3 #05-23
Speaker: Matthias Schirn, University of Munich
Moderator: Dr. Tang Weng Hong

About the Speaker:

SchirnCROPMatthias Schirn  is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Munich. His research interests are in the philosophy of logic and mathematics, proof theory, the philosophy of language, intensional semantics, epistemology and the philosophies of Kant, Frege, Hilbert, Russell and Wittgenstein. He also taught at the universities of Oxford (1976, 2014), Michigan State (1976-77), Cambridge (1977-78), Minnesota (1989), the State University of Campinas (1991), the National University of Buenos Aires (1992), the National Autonomous University of Mexico (1993, 1994, 1997), the Federal University of Ceará in Fortaleza (2003), the National University San Marcos in Lima (2009) and numerous other universities in Europe and Latin America. He gave invited talks at many of the most prestigious universities in Europe, the United States of America, Latin America, Asia and Australia. Since 2012 he is a member of the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy. He has published in Mind, Synthese, The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Erkenntnis, Dialectica, The Journal of Symbolic Logic, Reports on Mathematical Logic, History and Philosophy of Logic, Logique et Analyse, Axiomathes, Theoria, Kantstudien, and other international journals. He is currently preparing two books on Frege’s philosophy and his logic.

“Thought Experiments in Ethics” by Peter Kung (Oct 9)

Many compelling thought experiments have played a prominent role in the ethics literature: the transplant case, deciding on the best policies from the original position, being kidnapped and attached to a famous violinist. A wide range of thought experiments in ethics have a distinctive feature: they feature forced choices with fixed outcomes. In a typical ethics thought experiment, an agent A is faced with choice C1 and C2. If A picks C1, then O1¬ will occur. If A picks C2, then O2 will occur. The thought experiment forces the choice between C1 and C2: they are the only relevant options. To suggest another option, C3, is to violate the rules of the game. Likewise, O1¬ and O2 are the only possible outcomes. It is not merely probably that one will occur; it is definite. Suggesting that something other than O1 and O2 will occur is, again, not to play the game.

Starting with the plausible assumption that good thought experiments must be metaphysically possible, I explore whether thought experiments with forced choices and fixed outcomes are metaphysically possible. In my view, attending closely to features of imagination suggests that pessimism is warranted. I contend that the best account of our knowledge of metaphysical possibility is via imagistic imagination. I develop a key distinction between types of content in imagistic imagination, and use this distinction to analyze the metaphysical possibility of forced choices and fixed outcomes. I reach a pessimistic conclusion: we have no reason to think that forced choices and fixed outcomes are metaphysically possible.

I conclude that that any ethical view that counts outcomes as ethically relevant will have to take seriously moral risk, a result I thinks accords with common sense. In everyday ethical reasoning, choices are not forced and outcomes are not fixed. We take into account the chancy nature of our decisions: choosing C1 will likely lead to O1, but there is a chance it will lead to O1.1 or O1.2 or…. On my view, the methodology of thought experiments itself requires that we consider moral risk. This has the implication that some putatively devastating counterexamples in ethics prove to be less devastating than widely thought.

Philosophy Seminar Series
Date: Thursday, 9 Oct 2014
Time: 2pm – 4pm
Venue: AS3 #05-23
Speaker: Peter Kung, Pomona College
Moderator: Dr. Tang Weng Hong

About the Speaker:

PeterKungPeter Kung (Pennsylvania, B.S. in Computer Science & Engineering, Stanford, M.A. In Philosophy, NYU, Ph.D. In Philosophy) is Associate Professor of Philosophy and former Department Chair at Pomona College. He has held visiting or teaching appointments at New York University, Stanford University, Claremont Graduate University and now the National University of Singapore. Professor Kung’s research centers on two areas: the philosophy of mind, in particular the thought experiments, where is coediting a collection for Oxford University Press titled Knowledge Through Imagination; and epistemology, where he focuses on the limits of skeptical challenges and the proper treatment of probabilistic reasons. He is grateful to have the chance to explore Singapore with his wife, who is also visiting at NUS, and two young children.

Conference on Confucianism and Global Chinese Society (in Mandarin)

Organized by: The Nanyang Confucian Association, with presenters from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Singapore.
Date: Thursday 18- Friday 19 September 2014
Venue: Furama Riverfront Hotel (405 Havelock Road, Singapore 169633)
Program attached as a pdf: 【南洋孔教會】國際儒學會議日程表.

Note: A/P LO Yuet Keung from NUS Chinese Studies, and joint appointment NUS Philosophy, will be giving his paper on Friday morning.

“Finality Revived: Powers and Intentionality” by David Oderberg (Sep 16)

Proponents of physical intentionality argue that the classic hallmarks of intentionality highlighted by Brentano are also found in purely physical powers. Critics worry that this idea is metaphysically obscure at best, and at worst leads to panpsychism or animism. I examine the debate in detail, finding both confusion and illumination in the physical intentionalist thesis. Analysing a number of the canonical features of intentionality, I show that they all point to one overarching phenomenon of which both the mental and the physical are kinds, namely finality. This is the finality of ‘final causes’, the long-discarded idea of universal action for an end to which recent proponents of physical intentionality are in fact pointing whether or not they realise it. I explain finality in terms of the concept of specific indifference, arguing that in the case of the mental, specific indifference is realised by the process of abstraction, which has no correlate in the case of physical powers. This analysis, I conclude, reveals both the strengths and weaknesses of rational creatures such as us, as well as only partly demystifying the way in which powers work.

Philosophy Department Seminar
Date: Tuesday, 16 Sep 2014
Time: 3.30pm – 5.30pm
Venue: AS3 #05-23
Speaker: David Oderberg, University of Reading
Moderator: Dr. Tang Weng Hong

About the Speaker:

davidoderbergDavid S. Oderberg is Professor of Philosophy, University of Reading. His chief interest is metaphysics, but he also has a major interest in moral philosophy and has published in a number of areas, including philosophy of mind, philosophy of religion, and philosophical logic. His most recent book is Real Essentialism (Routledge, 2007, reprinted 2009). He is currently writing a book on the metaphysics of good and evil.

“Medicalization, ‘Normal Function’, and the Definition of Health” by Rebecca Kukla (Sep 9)

The concept of health is surprisingly difficult to define in a rigorous and satisfying way. I argue that biologically based ‘normal function’ accounts and thoroughgoing social constructionist accounts of health are both deeply unsatisfying, particularly if we want the concept of health to play a substantial role in policy and social justice projects. I propose what I call an ‘institutional’ definition of health, and argue that it retains the objectivity that is appealing in biological accounts, along with the social constructionists’ important insight that health and disease are partially constituted by social context and by contingent, historical processes of medicalization.

Philosophy Department Seminar
Date: Tuesday, 9 Sep 2014
Time: 3.30pm – 5.30pm
Venue: AS3 #05-23
Speaker: Rebecca Kukla, Georgetown University
Moderator: Dr. Tang Weng Hong

About the Speaker:

20110112 Rebecca Kukla_0002Rebecca Kukla is Professor of Philosophy, Georgetown University.  Her research interests include social epistemology (including the epistemology and methodology of medical research), philosophy of language, feminist philosophy, metaethics, reproductive ethics and the culture of pregnancy and motherhood, and research ethics. Much of her research bridges ethics, epistemology, and philosophy of language. She also has serious interests in eighteenth century philosophy, especially the work of Rousseau and Kant. She received her B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Toronto in 1990 and her Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh in 1996.  Her publications include R.Kukla and M. Lance, ‘Yo!’ and ‘Lo!’:  The Pragmatic Topography of the Space of Reasons (Cambridge:  Harvard University Press 2009)

Philosophy Commencement and Alumni Party 2014 & 60th Anniversary of NUS Philosophy

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For the second time running, the Department of Philosophy held its Commencement and Alumni Party at the Shaw Foundation Alumni House (1st August). The party saw a turnout of nearly 50 guests comprising honours and graduating students, Alumni, and Faculty members, all mingling over food and drink. This event also marked the 60th anniversary of the philosophy department, a significant milestone in its history.

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The event was hosted by emcee Xue En, an honours student of the department. The festivities were officially kicked off by acting Head of Department, A/P Michael Pelczar. The food was a delicious spread of dishes ranging from Shepherds’ Pie to Laksa. All these were complemented by a mix of unique craft beers, kindly sponsored by several faculty members. Much as the night was about food and drink, it was also about philosophy and reconnecting with old friends: Alumni got to reacquaint themselves with old classmates and teachers, while graduating students were given an opportunity to forge new friendships with those that have graduated before them. The attendees spent the evening exchanging both philosophical ideas as well as snippets of their personal experiences, having fruitful discussions on all aspects of life.

IMG_9575During the party, Cheryl, a member of the graduating cohort delivered a speech on her own experiences in the Department of Philosophy, fondly recalling the unique experiences that she had during her time as a student and her year-long exchange in Edinburgh. Without a doubt, one of the highlights of the evening was a speech by former head of the Philosophy department, Prof. Ten Chin Liew, who treated everyone to reminiscences of his experiences at the department, both as a young undergraduate, and also as a faculty member. While acknowledging that some may be unhappy to have their youthful mischief so exposed, he thought the risk worth taking given that some of the people mentioned are already dead, or too far away to take their revenge, he said with a twinkle in his eye – much to the amusement of all who were present.

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To commemorate the special occasion, a mug specially designed by A/P John Holbo, very much our resident artist, was presented to each guest. It carries the byline-”Come for the answers, stay for the questions”—familiar to several generations of philosophy students by now. The Office of Alumni Relations also generously sponsored gifts for each graduating student. A/P Holbo’s talents were further showcased on the design of the department’s 60th anniversary cake. If the mug bears the motif of an Athenian coin, the cake carries a quote from Confucius’ Analects passage 2.4, and a doodle of the Master himself. The juxtaposition of the two designs—one alluding to the beginnings of the discipline in the ancient West, the other to the parallel sources of wisdom’s study in the East—highlights the inclusive nature of the department. After a bout of photos with all the guests, the cake was cut by Professor Pelzar and Professor Ten and witnessed by members of the faculty present.

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The event concluded with closing words by A/P Loy Hui-Chieh, and the promise of an even better party next year. As the guests reluctantly prepared to leave, they ended the evening by taking pictures with specially prepared Polaroid cameras, taking home a personalised memoir of their time at the party, which was nothing short of a rousing success.

For more photos, please visit our facebook photo album of the event.

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“How Predictive Brains Might Distinguish Between Appearance and Reality” by Malcolm Forster (Aug 14)

In philosophy, the problem of appearance and reality is the problem of saying why the appearance of an object to us gives us information about the way the object really is, even though the same object appears different to different people at different times.  A parallel can be drawn between that problem and a hotly debated topic in neuroscience, about which features of neural activities inside the brain (the “appearances”) carry information about the external world (the “reality”).  The problem of explicating a semantic notion of “carrying information” has also been tackled by philosophers in the past (Fred Dretske, Denny Stampe, Jerry Fodor, and more recently, Brian Skyrms, 2010, Signals).  This talk will argue that the general approach to this problem taken by neuroscientists and these philosophers is fundamentally wrong.  The argument is premised on recent work on causality known as Bayesian causal networks (e.g., Judea Pearl, 2000, 2009).  Once neural networks are re-described as Bayes nets, there is a sharp distinction between internal probabilistic dependencies that can be explained by internal causal connections and those that cannot.  Only those that cannot be explained internally carry information about the external world. The talk will end with a discussion about how this version of naturalistic semantics, Wisconsin style, bears on the philosophical problem of appearance and reality.

Philosophy Department Seminar
Date: Thursday, 14 Aug 2014
Time: 3.30pm – 5.30pm
Venue: AS3 #05-23
Speaker: Malcolm Forster, University of Wisconsin at Madison
Moderator: Dr. Tang Weng Hong

About the Speaker:

forsterProfessor Malcolm R. Forster is Professor of Philosophy, University of Wisconsin at Madison. His research has focused on issues in the methodology of science, particularly the role of simplicity and unification in confirmation and in statistics, as well as William Whewell’s methodology of science applied to planetary astronomy (the latest publication being M. Forster (2011) “The Debate between Whewell and Mill on the Nature of Scientific Induction”, in Stephan Hartmann (ed.), The Handbook of the History of Logic, Volume 10: Inductive Logic (Elsevier Science, pp. 91-113.). In 2010, he also applied Whewell’s consilience of inductions to quantum physics (“The Miraculous Consilience of Quantum Mechanics”, in Ellery Eells and James Fetzer (eds.), 2010, Probability and Science), and he is now expanding and developing an earlier project applying the method of Bayes Causal Nets to understanding various results in the foundations of quantum mechanics.

Philosophy Commencement and Alumni Party 2014

The NUS Philosophy department cordially invites all alumni and graduating students to the Philosophy Commencement and Alumni Party 2014. Come reconnect with old friends and teachers on an evening of fun, great food and friendship! This year’s party will be extra special as we are also commemorating the department’s 60th anniversary. The party will be held at the Shaw Foundation Alumni House on Aug 1st (Friday) from 6 – 9.30 p.m. RSVP by July 25th at the following link:

https://esurvey.nus.edu.sg/efm/se.ashx?s=705E3EF44D59E710

Please help us spread the word, and we look forward to having you!

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