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

“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

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