“What is Descartes Meditations?” by Jorge Secada

In it I propose that the Meditations is not an essay and that its order and unity are revealed when seen as a manual for meditation on God and self. Placing Descartes in relation to the Aristotelian and Platonic traditions, as well as the tradition of Christian meditational spirituality, and bringing to light the actual structure of the text, I articulate the philosophical import of Cartesian meditation as providing the starting points for metaphysical argument. I also explore briefly the connection between the literary genre used to write philosophy and the underlying conception of the subject.


Date: 15 August 2019
Time: 2pm to 4pm
Venue: Philosophy Meeting Room (AS3-05-23)


About the Speaker:
He is currently a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Virginia, and have been Fellow of St Johns College at the University of Cambridge. He has been a visiting professor at the University of British Columbia in 1990, at the American University in Beirut in 2004, and was NEH Distinguished Visiting Professor at SUNY College at Potsdam in 1998 and 2014. Currently, he is also professor of philosophy at the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos in Lima. He is the author of Cartesian Metaphysics (Cambridge University Press, 2000) and of Meditaciones sobre el Perú (Biblioteca Abraham Valdelomar, Huacachina, 2019). And he is ehe editor of the forthcoming volume The Cartesian Mind, Routledge, 2020, as well as the author of several papers on early modern philosophy.




All are welcome

The Real Gettier Challenge by Stephen Hetherington

‘The Real Gettier Challenge’

Epistemologists have long assumed that they know what main generic thesis is their explicative quarry, as they set out to understand Gettier cases more fully by reaching for one or more of the concepts of epistemic luck, intellectual virtue, defeaters, safety, sensitivity, etc. Not so, I say: epistemologists have also long been badly mistaken about this – that is , about even the generic thesis that they need to be explicating. They have taken the explicandum thesis in question to be something like ‘Any belief that is Gettiered fails to be knowledge.’ But the real epistemological explicandum lurking in these shadows is slightly different. And this slight difference matters – greatly. It implies that much contemporary epistemological thinking about knowledge has been beside the explicative point at best, when claiming to accommodate and even to illuminate what happens within Gettier cases. I have recently explained all of this (and more) in detail in Knowledge and the Gettier Problem. This talk will present part of that book’s argument.


Date: 8 August 2019
Time: 2pm to 4pm
Venue: Philosophy Meeting Room (AS3-05-23)


About the Speaker:
Stephen Hetherington is Professor of Philosophy at the University of New South Wales, in Sydney, and (since late 2013) the Editor-in-Chief of the Australasian Journal of Philosophy. His books include Good Knowledge, Bad Knowledge (Oxford University Press, 2001), Self-Knowledge (Broadview, 207), How To Know (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011), Knowledge and the Gettier Problem (Cambridge University Press, 2016/2018), and What Is Epistemology? (Polity, 2019). His edited books include Epistemology Futures (Oxford University Press, 2006), What Makes a Philosopher Great? (Routledge, 2017), and The Gettier Problem (Cambridge University Press, 2019).



All are wlecome


“Kant on Consciousness and its Limits” by Beatrice Longuenesse

Kant on Consciousness and its Limits.


The concepts of “consciousness,” “unity of consciousness” and “self-consciousness” are omnipresent in Kant’s critical system.  But what Kant means by these expressions is far from obvious.  Moreover, Kant maintains that many of our representations are “without consciousness” or representations “of which we are not conscious.” He also maintains that some of our mental activities are activities of which we are not conscious.  What does he mean by those statements?

In the first part of the paper, I consider what it means for a representation to be “without consciousness” by considering different types of monadic representations: sensations, intuitions, and concepts.

In the second part of the paper, I consider the meaning of “consciousness” that is prevalent in Kant’s system: where the concept does not refer to a quality of monadic representations but to an active attitude on the part of the subject.  I show that the questions asked at the beginning of this abstract find answers if one considers both meanings of “consciousness.”

In conclusion, I argue that the idea that consciousness has limits plays an important role throughout the critical system, even though that role has not been the object of a unified systematic account on Kant’s part.  Nor has it been the object of a systematic investigation on the part of Kant’s commentators.  I argue that such an investigation gives us novel insights into the contemporary import of Kant’s account of human minds.


Date: 26 June 2019, Wednesday
Time: 2pm to 4pm
Venue: Philosophy Meeting Room (AS3-05-23)


About the Speaker:
Beatrice Longuenesse is Julius Silver Professor of Philosophy at New York University and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  Her most recent book is *I, Me, Mine.  Back to Kant, and Back Again* (Oxford University Press 2017, paperback 2019).  Her next book, *The First Person in Cognition and Morality* is forthcoming with Oxford University Press.




All are welcome

Singapore-Hong Kong-Macau Symposium on Chinese Philosophy 2019

Date/Time: 24 and 25 May, 2019, 9:00AM – 5:30PM

Venue: Wan Boo Sow Research Centre for Chinese Culture AS8 05-49

The Singapore-Hong Kong-Macau Symposium on Chinese Philosophy aims to foster dialogue and interaction between scholars primarily based in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Macau. Submissions are invited for papers on any aspect of Chinese Philosophy, as well as papers dealing with comparative issues that engage Chinese perspectives. Speakers will be selected through a review of abstracts.

For enquiries, please contact Dr. Loy Hui-Chieh via loyhc@nus.edu.sg

Program Committee:

HUANG, Yong (The Chinese University of Hong Kong), LI, Chenyang (Nanyang Technological University), LOY, Hui-Chieh (National University Singapore), MOELLER, Hans-Georg (University of Macau), VAN NORDEN, Bryan (Yale-NUS College), ZHANG, Ellen, Committee Chair (Hong Kong Baptist University)


CHAN, Shing Bun Benedict (Hong Kong Baptist University), DOLCINI, Nevia  (University of Macau), EH, Edmond (University of Saint Joseph, Macau), HU, Jianping (Nanyang Technological University), LEE, Ting Mien (University of Macau), CHEUNG K.C. Leo (The Chinese University of Hong Kong), LEONG, Wai Chun (Macau University of Science and Technology), OOI, Daryl (National University of Singapore), PALMQUIST, Stephen  (Hong Kong Baptist University), RIVERA ESPINOZA, Manuel  (University of Macau), SAUNDERS, Frank Jr. (The University of Hong Kong), TAN, Christine Abigail Lee  (Nanyang Technological University), WEI, Qian Qian (National University of Singapore)

Schedule of presentations and abstracts here (pdf).


Calling for Facilitators for Inter-School Philosophy Dialogue (ISPD) 2019

(From the organizers)

Hello everyone,

The Inter-School Philosophy Dialogue (ISPD) turns 16 this year!

In line with the Bicentennial Commemoration this year, we will have The Bicentennial Edition of ISPD this year and participants will have the opportunity to explore concepts related to the Bicentennial Commemoration such as Openness, Multiculturalism, Self-determination, Identity, Culture and Progress.

It will be held on 2nd August (Friday), from 1500h to 1900h, in Raffles Girls’ School (Secondary).

The success of ISPD depends on our very helpful facilitators who are able to engage our participants in collaborative rational inquiry. To kick-start our prep for ISPD, please take a minute register yourselves at this link, to let us know that you will be joining us: https://tinyurl.com/16thISPDfacilitatorregform

More information will be sent closer to the date of the event.

Lastly, if you know of anyone who is Philosophy-trained and is an experienced facilitator, and would like to join us for ISPD, please feel free to forward the above link to them.

We look forward to meeting all of you at our annual gathering and hope to see everyone at ISPD.

“Wittgenstein’s “Private Language Argument” and the Limits of Language” by Richard McDonough


Wittgenstein’s “Private Language Argument” and the Limits of Language

After explaining the “private language argument” (PLA) centered in para. 258 of the Philosophical Investigations, the paper first clarifies Wittgenstein’s notion of criteria. The paper then discusses the irony in Wittgenstein’s apparent objection to putative private languages that they have no criteria for the private use of words. It is then argued that PLA, viewed from a logical perspective, is fallacious. The paper then shows how there could be scientific standards (not criteria in Wittgenstein’s technical sense) for the existence of private mental states and argues that Wittgenstein did not argue that this is impossible. The paper then argues that the conclusion of PLA is a tautology. The paper then argues that since the conclusion of PLA is a tautology, Wittgenstein would be correctly unmoved by any of the aforementioned objections to PLA. Finally, the paper refutes the objection that there is an inconsistency in the present interpretation and shows how resolving this objection shows that Wittgenstein’s PLA is to be understood in the context of his longstanding interest in setting the limits of language.

Date: 4 April 2019
Time: 2pm to 4pm
Venue: Philosophy Meeting Room (AS3-05-23)

About the Speaker:

Richard McDonough received his BA in philosophy, with minors in mathematics and chemistry, summa cum laude, from the University of Pittsburgh in 1971, his MA in philosophy from Cornell University in 1974, and his Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1975. He was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow 1971-71 and a National Science Foundation Fellow 1971-74. He is the author of two books, over 80 articles in internationally referred journals, 5 encyclopedia and dictionary entries, and 11 book reviews. He has acted as a guest editor of an issue of Idealistic Studies titled Wittgenstein and Cognitive Science. He has taught at Bates College, the National University of Singapore, the University of Tulsa, the University Putra Malaysia, the Overseas Family College, the PSB Academy, the University of Maryland, the Arium Academy, and James Cook University. In 2015, he received a European award for his papers in the philosophy of religion awarded at Babes-Bolyai University in Romania. In addition to philosophy, he has taught psychology, physics, general humanities and writing courses. He is currently working on a book on Plato and a book on the development of Wittgenstein’s philosophy from the early Tractatus to his “later philosophy”.

All are welcome

Honours Thesis (HT) Presentations by Mr Reuben Yeo Wei Wen, Mr Tshin Qi Zhou, Ms Quek Boo Eng, Rachel, Ms Neo Jia Jing & Mr Ng Wan Jun

Date: 28 March 2019
Time: 2pm to 5.40pm
Venue: Philosophy Meeting Room (AS3-05-23)

2.00pm to 2.45pm
1st Presentation by Reuben Yeo Wei Wen

Title: Caring for Worlds to Come: Toward Non-Anthropocentric Cosmopolitanisms

Care ethics concerns itself less with judging individual acts and more with cultivating relationships in particular contexts, seeking to inquire into moral dimensions not encompassed by theories of justice. I attempt to show how integrating care ethics into cosmopolitan discourse can be useful in conceptualizing non-anthropocentric cosmopolitanisms. Identifying care as a central source of cosmopolitan desire, I argue for multispecies/ecological cosmopolitanism in some form or other.

2.45pm to 3.30pm
2nd Presentation by Tshin Qi Zhou

Title: It is: A Defence of the Etiological Account of Assertion

Williamson (2000), In Knowledge and its Limits, explains the oddness of ‘p but I don’t know that p’ by appealing to the Knowledge Norm of Assertion (KNA). This has given rise to at least two major debates in the literature of the norms of assertion. The first debate feature competing accounts, such as Weiner’s (2005) Truth Norm, Lackey’s (2007) Reasonable to Believe Norm, and Kvanvig’s (2009) Justification Norm, all of which claim to explain the same data with a less demanding norm. The second debate feature arguments against the necessary and sufficient conditions of KNA. My thesis is concerned with both debates. In my first section, I defend Kelp’s (2018) etiological account of assertion. There are two upshots associated with accepting such an account. First, we can derive KNA from the etiological account. Second, accepting that the function of assertion is knowledge provides independent motivation that KNA is the right account. In the second section of my paper, I put the etiological account to work by examining Brown’s (2008, 2010, 2011) arguments against the sufficient conditions of KNA and showing that none of her arguments work. If I am successful, then this should give us good reason to accept both the etiological account and KNA.

3.30pm to 4.15pm
3rd Presentation by Ng Wan Jun

Title: Hume’s Skepticism, Eudaimonia and the Golden Mean

Drawing inspiration from the ancient Greeks, I develop an interpretation of Hume as a pragmatic skeptic: Hume endorses skepticism only insofar as it is pragmatic to do so. While Hume accepts the negative conclusions of skeptical arguments, he does not think that we should abandon our everyday beliefs and practices in light of these conclusions. Rather, we should retain them, as we have pragmatic reasons for doing so. A reason is considered pragmatic when it contributes to our flourishing as human beings (eudaimonia). This flourishing is rooted in our (individual) human nature. I label this as eudaimonic virtues.
To support this interpretation, I examine Hume’s attitude towards the different kinds of philosophies and his views on human nature. I argue that Hume ultimately endorses mitigated skepticism because it is the “golden mean” between excessive skepticism and credulity. Possessing a moderate degree of skepticism is the approach that is best suited to our nature, one that allows us to flourish the most as human beings.

4.25pm to 5.10pm
4th Presentation by Neo Jia Jing

Title: Culpable Ignorance: from analysing blame motivation to achieving fair allocation

The current discourse of culpable ignorance is typically concerned with whether or not an agent is to be blamed or excused from blame for committing a culpably ignorant act. This paper sets out to examine more closely the motivation behind blame allocation on a culpably ignorant agent. I will argue that the standard connection view between blameworthiness and culpability assumed by the majority of the current literature fails to fairly and consistently allocate blame to the right agent(s). Given this, I will offer an alternative to analysing these cases, namely that we can understand the motivation behind blame allocation in terms of ‘should have known’. More specifically, two senses of ‘should have known’ are in play – the agent-relative and agent-neutral senses, which consequently generate agent-relative and agent-neutral blameworthiness respectively. I will proceed to make the case for the agent-relative sense of blame to be the more important and morally relevant of the two when confronted with cases of culpable ignorance.

5.10pm to 5.55pm
5th Presentation by Quek Boo Eng, Rachel

Title: The Origin of Speciesism

This paper will firstly seek to establish the pervasiveness of human exceptionalism and ‘human-centred’ speciesism through a series of thought experiments. The results of these experiments indicate that the presence of a hypothetical human in any situation results in the generation of different decision-making rules as compared to situations involving only non-human animals; at the very least, it seems to complicate the decision-making process by requiring that humans be given special consideration. The bulk of the paper will explore the basis of speciesism – what possible qualities exist, largely specific to humans, that differentiate humans from non-human animals and could justify this asymmetry in decision-making rules. Ultimately, it will be posited that the notion of human identity serves as the foundation of speciesism, in that the above-mentioned ‘qualities’ amalgamate to form a human individual’s identity. Closer inspection of each of the various facets of ‘human identity’ will indicate that this is not a suitably convincing or justified reason to prefer one’s own species over another – the foundation of speciesism is thus not quite as solid as it may be believed.

All are welcome

“Ethical Desiderata for a Satisfactory Socialist Economics” by Barry Maguire

Ethical Desiderata for a Satisfactory Socialist Economics

It has become rather old-fashioned to contrast the self-directed nature of market motives with the socialist ideal of a productive community in which each contributes according to their ability and is contributed to according to their need. A barrage of arguments from theorists in economics, psychology, political theory, and philosophy have weakened this contrast, arguing that market participation is compatible with a range of attractive kinds of social relations. In a series of papers, Robert Sugden and Luigino Bruni have argued that we can conceptualise market exchange as a joint activity undertaken together with the intention of realizing a mutual benefit. And so we can. The key question is whether this conceptualization is compatible with the relevant socialist ideal. This is the question that drives this talk. I start by strengthening Sugden and Bruni’s case, granting as many assumptions as possible to market theorists along the way. And still, I argue, there is at least one crucial difference between these two forms of economic society. In markets, our individual motivations to serve others in our productive lives are conditional upon self-directed concerns. In the socialist ideal, our motivations to serve others in our productive activities are instead directly explained by a commitment to serve our community in some useful way. We may yet be willing and able to uphold this commitment only if doing so is compatible with living a good life oneself. I explore the nature and significance of this contrast, partly by application to cases of price gouging, salary negotiations, and the minimum wage.

Date: 21 March 2019
Time: 2pm to 4pm
Venue: Philosophy Meeting Room (AS3-05-23)

About the Speaker:
Barry Maguire is an Assistant Professor in the Philosophy Department at Stanford University. He previously taught Politics, Philosophy, and Economics at UNC Chapel Hill, and before that held a Bersoff Faculty Fellowship in the Philosophy department at NYU. He received his PhD in philosophy from Princeton University, where he was advised by Gideon Rosen. He works on a range of related issues in Normative Ethics, Metaethics, Epistemology, and Political Philosophy.

All are welcome