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Graduate Student Conference Call for Paper

659px-Shiba_Kokan_A_meeting_of_Japan_China_and_the_West_late_18th_centuryThe second annual NUS-National Chengchi University (Taiwan)-Kyoto University Triangular Graduate Student Conference on Asian philosophy will be hosted here at NUS 6-8 March. This is a friendly, informal conference where students of these three universities share ideas and work in progress. The conference will commence with keynote addresses by Profs Loy Hui Chieh, Lin Chen-Kuo of Chenching National University and Yasuo Deguchi of Kyoto University.

Students are invited to submit proposals for either short (20 minute) talks or full (50 minute) talks for this conference. It is a great opportunity to share ideas and to meet fellow students from around Asia. Please send a title and abstract to Jay Garfield (jay.garfield-at-yale-nus.edu.sg) and Michael Pelczar (phimwp-at-nus.edu.sg) by 14 February.

“Preferring to Go On” by Meghan Sullivan (Jan 22)

In my talk, I will identify some structural parallels between preferences that we form about prolonging our natural lives and preferences that we form about whether we hope to have an afterlife. I’ll argue that the two cases (taken as cases of forming rational preferences) are similar in ways which are often overlooked. I’ll then consider some norms that rational agents might follow in adopting preferences about “going on” more broadly conceived. I’ll argue both sets of “going on” preferences (life extension and afterlife) are preferences that can be guided by rational deliberation. And I’ll argue for a particular principle for forming these preferences.

Philosophy Seminar Series
Date: Thursday, 22 Jan 2015
Time: 2pm – 4pm
Venue: AS3 #05-23
Speaker: Meghan Sullivan, University of Notre Dame
Moderator: Dr. Qu Hsueh Ming

About the Speaker:

Picture1Meghan Sullivan is the Rev John A O’Brien Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame.  She specializes in metaphysics and topics where it overlaps with semantics, logic, epistemology and practical reason.  She’s currently on leave writing a series of papers on issues at the intersection of the metaphysics of time and diachronic rationality, supported by grants from the University of Sydney and UC Riverside.  Meghan holds a PhD from Rutgers University and a B.Phil from Oxford, where she studied as a Rhodes Scholar.

“Moral obligations of collective beneficence” by Anne Schwenkenbecher (Jan 8)

The world is an imperfect place. Many of its imperfections have people live worse lives than they could live. And many of those lives could be substantially improved if we collectively worked on solutions to them. But when are we morally required to do that?

This paper examines the idea of moral obligations of collective beneficence – obligations we have to collectively help others in need where we bear no responsibility for their need. Acts of collective beneficence can either provide so-called threshold goods or contribute to incremental goods. For incremental goods, every contribution counts and the more we contribute the better. However, this paper will focus on moral obligations to collectively produce threshold goods, that is, goods the production of which requires a minimum number of contributions. Providing such goods may require all available agents to assist (joint necessity) or only a subgroup of them (overdetermination cases). When moving away from uncontroversial threshold cases towards more complex scenarios, it will become apparent that duties to contribute to collective beneficence are less stringent the greater the number of agents involved. While the case for moral obligations of collective beneficence can be convincingly argued for small-scale threshold scenarios, such duties are more difficult to justify once the problem in need of remedy exceeds a certain scale and complexity.  This may mean that such obligations – in their most stringent form – can only be held by agents in relatively small groups.

Philosophy Seminar Series
Date: Thursday, 8 Jan 2015
Time: 2pm – 4pm
Venue: AS3 #05-23
Speaker: Anne Schwenkenbecher, Murdoch University
Moderator: Dr. Qu Hsueh Ming

About the Speaker:

Picture1Anne Schwenkenbecher is a Lecturer in Philosophy in the School of Arts. Before joining Murdoch University in June 2013, she held appointments at The University of Melbourne, the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics (CAPPE) at Australian National University, and the University of Vienna. Her PhD in Philosophy (2009) is from Humboldt University of Berlin. Anne’s research focuses on a range of topics in normative and applied ethics, as well as political philosophy and action theory. These include the possibility and normative significance of collective agency, the ethics of political violence, and ethical problems arising from climate change. Her book “Terrorism: A philosophical enquiry” was published with Palgrave Macmillan in 2012.

“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)