“How Egalitarian is Deliberative Democracy?” by Elena Ziliotti

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In this talk, I will assess the value of public deliberation from an egalitarian standpoint. Contrary to the recent claims of several deliberative theorists and egalitarians, I will argue that there is an incommensurable tension between egalitarianism and the ideal of public deliberation, which is common to many contemporary deliberative theories of democracy. Such tension excludes any kind of non-instrumental value of public deliberation from an egalitarian standpoint.

Early Modern Panel

This 2-day workshop, “Early Modern Panel” organized by A/P Cecilia Lim on 15 – 16 November 2016 at the Philosophy Meeting Room (AS3-05-23). The panelists are Dr. Andrea Christofidou from University of Oxford, A/P Cecilia Lim and Dr. Qu Hsueh Ming.

Descartes on Mind-Body Relation: A Solution?
Date: 15 November 2016
Time: 10am to 12pm
Venue: AS3-05-23
Speaker: Dr Andrea Christofidou

Material Falsity
Date: 15 November 2016
Time: 2pm to 4pm
Venue: AS3-05-23
Speaker: A/P Cecilia Lim

The Deontological Threshold (and Beyond) in THN 1.4.7
Date: 16 November 2016
Time: 10am to 12pm
Venue: AS3-05-23
Speaker: Dr. Qu Hsueh Ming

 

Absences, Many Absences and Causation

In this paper I offer a partial defense of absence causation in response to two related issues: (i) the problem of many absences, and (ii) Beebee’s claim that there is no metaphysically respectable, principled criterion that the friend of absence causation can appeal to in response to (i). I argue that holes provide a counterexample to Beebee’s claim, and I articulate the response to the many absences problem suggested by this case. In the final section I suggest ways this response can be developed to account for common-sense judgments about the causal relevance of other cases of absences.

Philosophy Seminar Series
Date: Thursday, 17 November 2016
Time: 2pm – 4pm
Venue: AS3 #05-23
Speaker: Dr Phillip Meadows
Moderator: Dr Qu Hsueh Ming

About the Speaker:

Dr Phillip Meadows is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at UAE University, and have taught previously at Manchester, Keele and UWE, Bristol. His research covers topics in metaphysics and the philosophy of perception, having published on direct realism, spatial perception, audition, and holes. His present research project is to provide a coherent account of the nature of sound, silence and auditory perceptual experience.

 

 

“Justice as a Virtue, Justice according to Virtues, and/or Justice of Virtues: A Confucian Amendment to Michael Sandel’s Idea of Justice ” by Prof Huang Yong

In his Justice: What’s the Right Thing To Do?, Michael J. Sandel examines three approaches to justice: the utilitarian idea of justice as maximizing welfare or happiness, the freedom based idea of justice as respecting freedom and human dignity, and the Aristotelian idea of justice as recognizing, honoring, and rewarding virtues. In his view, the first two are inadequate, and he himself aims to develop a version of the third approach. Two central features of this approach can be summarized as justice as a virtue and justice according to virtues. In discussing the first feature, my main concern is the relationship between justice as a virtue of an individual person and justice as a virtue of a social institution and the Confucian contribution on this issue. In discussing the second feature, I shall develop the Confucian idea of justice of virtues as an amendment or alternative.

Philosophy Seminar Series
Date: Thursday, 27 October 2016
Time: 2pm – 4pm
Venue: AS3 #05-23
Speaker: Prof Huang Yong
Moderator: Dr Qu Hsueh Ming

About the Speaker:

Yong Huang, Ph.D. (Fudan) and Th.D. (Harvard), is a professor of philosophy at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. He is the editor of Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy and Dao Companions to Chinese Philosophy (a book series), both by Springer. His research interests include ethics, political philosophy, and Chinese and comparative philosophy. Author of Religious Goodness and Political Rightness: Beyond the Liberal and Communitarian Debate (2001), Confucius: A Guide for the Perplexed (2012), and Why Be Moral: Learning from the Neo-Confucian Cheng Brothers (2014), as well as three volumes of essays in Chinese, Ethics in a Global Age, Politics in a Global Age, and Religion in a Global Age (all in 2010), Huang has also published about 70 journal articles and book chapters each in English and Chinese.

“What use is conceptual possibility?” by Peter Kung

Sometimes philosophers claim that we can learn philosophically valuable results from a proposition’s conceptual possibility. In this paper, I will examine this notion of conceptual possibility. I will be interested in two claims about conceptual possibility. First, several authors have advanced the view that conceptual possibility properly constrained provides us with evidence for metaphysical possibility: conceptual possibility is a guide to metaphysical possibility. Second, philosophers sometimes argue that the conceptual possibility of a proposition can be philosophically informative in the absence of evidence for the proposition’s metaphysical possibility. I argue against both claims.

Suppose we have a concept of X and we are curious what being X entails. Our concept of X might leave it open whether x is F. That can certainly happen when the proposition <x is F> is a posteriori. However when <x is F> is agreed on all sides to be an a priori matter, can we can make any sense of the claim that our concept of X leaves it open whether X is F while, at the same time, the conceptual possibility of X being F is a significant result? There are two situations to consider: first, that we have definitively concluded that X being F entails no contradiction, and second, that we are just so far unable to see any contradiction in X being F. In the first situation, we would be in a position to conclude that X being F is metaphysically possible after all, making the appeal to conceptual possibility gratuitous. The second case is the interesting one: we often appeal to conceptual possibility in just those cases where we are not in a position to draw out all the entailments of our concepts. The question in the second case is how worried we should be that our finding a proposition conceptually possible is driven by our less-than-ideal epistemic situation, raising the concern that we simply have not reflected carefully enough on whether the proposition is in fact coherent. I argue that this worry should be given much more credence than conceptual possibility’s defenders have allowed.

Philosophy Seminar Series
Date: Thursday, 20 October 2016
Time: 2pm – 4pm
Venue: AS3 #05-23
Speaker: A/P Peter Kung
Moderator: Dr Qu Hsueh Ming

About the Speaker:

Peter Kung is Associate Professor of Philosophy and former Department Chair at Pomona College in Claremont, California. His research centers on two areas: the philosophy of mind, in particular imagination and thought experiments; and epistemology, where he focuses on the limits of skeptical challenges and the proper treatment of probabilistic reasoning. He has published a number of articles in leading peer-reviewed journals, and recently co-edited Knowledge Through Imagination (2016, Oxford University Press) with Amy Kind.

“Torture and Imprisonment” by Owen Schaefer

In most legal regimes, imprisonment is the primary means of criminal sanction, while punitive torture is prohibited.  However, I argue that the same moral reasons that ground prohibitions on torture are also reasons to oppose punitive imprisonment.  Prison, especially long sentences, can involve as much or more suffering as torture. Moreover, both involve intentional degradation, dehumanization and a cruel use of the threat of suffering to induce compliance.  Some have used this line of reasoning to argue for the permissibility of mild forms of torture (i.e., corporal punishment) in the criminal justice system.  I propose that we should instead accept the arguments against torture as sound; punitive imprisonment is, like torture, inhumane and therefore impermissible.  This implies the need for significant reforms to criminal justice systems, and we need to urgently investigate alternatives to imprisonment such as reconciliation models of justice.  Some non-punitive use of imprisonment (such as sequestration of acutely dangerous individuals, where inducement of suffering is not intended) may still be justifiable, but still prisons would have to be significantly reformed – perhaps along the public health model of quarantine.

Philosophy Seminar Series
Date: Thursday, 25 August 2016
Time: 2pm – 4pm
Venue: AS3 #05-23
Speaker: Owen Schaefer
Moderator: Dr Qu Hsueh Ming

About the Speaker:

Owen Schaefer is a Research Fellow at NUS’s Centre for Biomedical Ethics under the MOH-funded initiative, Clinical Ethics Network + Research Ethics Support (CENTRES).  He first began working in applied ethics as a ‘pre-doctoral’ fellow at the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health in the US.  He received his DPhil degree in philosophy at Oxford in 2014, writing a dissertation on moral enhancement.  Immediately prior to joining CBmE, he spent a year as a post-doc at the Oxford Centre for Neuroethics researching the implications of various novel biotechnologies.  His research interests cover a wide array of topics in applied ethics, including research ethics, enhancement, punishment, neuroethics, stem cell studies, synthetic meat, and assisted reproduction.

“Newton’s Modal Metaphysics and his Polemics with Spinozism” by Prof Eric Schliesser

In this paper I explore a series of terse arguments by Newton in the General Scholium of the Principia. All these arguments involve unusual modal metaphysics. I analyze the metaphysical commitments revealed by these arguments and by drawing on writings of Toland and Clarke I argue that Spinozism is the implied target.

Philosophy Seminar Series
Date: Thursday, 18 August 2016
Time: 2pm – 4pm
Venue: AS3 #05-23
Speaker: Prof Eric Schliesser
Moderator: Dr Qu Hsueh Ming

About the Speaker:

Eric Schliesser (PhD, Chicago 2002) is Professor of Political Theory at The University of Amsterdam, and Visiting Professor of Philosophy & Moral Sciences, Ghent University. He publishes in early modern philosophy and the philosophy of economics. He is an active blogger, and has edited numerous volumes, most recently, “Sympathy: A History of a Concept” (Oxford). His monograph on Adam Smith is forthcoming with Oxford University Press.

To all our grad students doing Asian/Chinese philosophy

Call for Applications to the Tan Ean Kiam Chinese Philosophy Graduate Award

To encourage students interested in pursuing graduate studies in Chinese philosophy, the Kongzi Cultural Fund is calling for applicants to their Tan Ean Kiam Chinese Philosophy Graduate Award. The conditions are as follows:

  1. Full time graduate student (MA or PhD) who is pursuing research in Chinese philosophy may apply.
  2. Singapore Citizens, Permanent Residents or non-Resident who is a full time graduate student enrolled in one of the local universities (NUS, NTU, SMU) may apply.
  3. Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents who are pursuing graduate studies in an overseas university may also apply.
  4. Each award ranges from 4,000-6,000SGD; the size will depend on the number of applicants and other factors. The total fund available per year for the awards is 30,000SGD.
  5. Applicants should submit an English CV, personal statement in both English and Chinese, two recommendation letters, transcripts and other relevant documents proving status as graduate student.
  6. The Kongzi Cultural Fund will be responsible for forming a committee, to see to the selection and interview process; the number of awardees per year may vary according to circumstances.
  7. The awards will be given out each year on the 27th Day of the 8th month in the Chinese calendar (i.e., September or October) at the Annual Birthday Celebration of Confucius hosted by the Nanyang Confucian Association, by representatives of the Kongzi Cultural Fund and Tan Ean Kiam Foundation.

Yale-NUS Philosophy Talk: Iakovos Vasiliou (CUNY) on Friday, 12 August, 2:30 p.m

Happy mid-July, Singapore philosophers!

Here’s a brief “save the date” for an event happening early this upcoming semester: Prof. Iakovos Vasiliou (City University of New York) will be giving a talk entitled “Rethinking Eudaimonism.”

When?: Friday, 12 August 2016, 2:30-4:30 p.m. Where?: East Core Board Room (EC-03-08), Yale-NUS College

Here is a link to the Yale-NUS campus map: https://www.yale-nus.edu.sg/about/campus-map/. East Core is highlighted in light purple. To get to the board room, enter through the library and walk up the stairs.

We look forward to seeing you there.

ISPD (2016): Philosophy and Science

4899e4ab-598b-4de9-813c-d50de61a165cFrom data privacy to artificial intelligence, to the ethics of experimentation–today’s scientific and technological advancement confronts core issues about our human identity and values. Against this background, philosophy promises to empower us with clear and critical thinking to make sense of our scientific present and future. That’s why “there’s no better way to spend a Saturday morning!” than to enable teenagers in philosophical discussion about science at the Inter-school Philosophy Dialogue (ISPD), said keynote speaker Assistant Professor Voo Teck Chuan of the Centre for Biomedical Ethics (CBmE), Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine.

039eb102-dbc2-4711-a208-158b7b8a92b7This year’s ISPD was held at Raffles Girls School (RGS) on July 9. It saw the participation of some 147 students from fourteen secondary schools from across Singapore, joining with scores of facilitators to discuss various topics on philosophy and science. This is the 13th ISPD, and for the first time, the event was jointly organised by the Philosophy Departments of Raffles Girls School and Raffles Institution, with the sponsorship of the Department of Philosophy at NUS.

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