“Three Puzzles about Spatial Experience” by David Chalmers (6 May)

Is it possible that everything that seems to be on your left is actually on your right?  Is it possible that everything in the world is twice as big as it seems to be?  Is it possible that everything that seems square is actually an extended rectangle?  Through reflection on these and related puzzles I will address some central issues regarding the content of spatial experience.  I will use this analysis to shed light on puzzles about skepticism concerning the external world.

Philosophy Seminar Series.
Date: Monday, 6 May 2013 (Please note that this talk isn’t following our regular day/time for talks)
Time: 10am – 12pm
Venue: Philosophy Resource Room (AS3 #05-23)
Speaker: David Chalmers, Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Centre for Consciousness, Australian National University.
Moderator: Dr. Michael Pelczar

About the Speaker: David Chalmers is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Centre for Consciousness at the Australian National University.  He is also Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Centre for Mind, Brain, and Consciousness at New York University.  His books include “The Conscious Mind,” “The Character of Consciousness,” and “Constructing the World.”

“The Case Against ‘Objects and Persons'” by Chong Bao Shen Kenneth (19 Mar)

Consider the following argument in which a baseball shatters a window:

1)  The baseball – if it exists – is causally irrelevant to whether its constituent atoms, acting in concert, cause the shattering of the window.

2) The shattering of the window is caused by those atoms, acting in concert.

3) The shattering of the window is not overdetermined.

4) If the baseball exists, it does not cause the shattering of the window. (In other words, it is causally redundant).

Call this the ‘Overdetermination Argument’. Trenton Merricks, in his book, Objects and Persons, takes this argument to show, as I will present, that macroscopic, inanimate objects like tables and chairs don’t exist. At the same time, Merricks thinks persons are not likewise eliminated as persons have causal relevancy by virtue of being conscious. I disagree with Merricks. I believe that if the Overdetermination Argument works at all against ordinary objects, it should work against persons too. I present 3 reasons for rejecting his ontology: two have got to with rejecting the premises involved in his argument for differentiating persons from ordinary objects. The last has got to with a consequence of his position: as I will suggest, if Merricks is right, it would seem that persons exist when they are conscious, but not when they are unconscious.

Graduate Seminar Series.
Date: Tuesday, 19 Mar 2013
Time: 2pm – 4pm
Venue: Philosophy Resource Room (AS3-03-02) (Please note that we are not using our regular venue)
Speaker: Chong Bao Shen Kenneth, MA Student

About the Speaker

Kenneth is currently pursuing his MA at NUS, where he is receiving some pressure to be a dualist under the supervision of his supervisor. In his free time, Kenneth enjoys playing all sorts of games, which might help explain his interest in Philosophy. He also enjoys writing plays and listening to music.