Everyone (all genders, philosophers & non-philosophers) is welcome at our public events. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss possible accessibility accommodations if needed.
Sara Bernstein (Notre Dame), February 20th 4:00-6:00, room GC 5307
Could a Middle Level be the Most Fundamental?
Debates over what is fundamental assume that what is fundamental must be either a “top” level (roughly, the biggest or highest-level thing), or a “bottom” level (roughly, the smallest or lowest-level things). Here I sketch a middle view between top-ism and bottom-ism, that a middle level could be the most fundamental, and argue for its possibility. I then suggest that this view satisfies the desiderata of asymmetry, irreflexivity, intransitivity, and well-foundedness of fundamentality, and that it is on par with the explanatory power of top-ism and bottom-ism.
Rebecca Mason (University of San Francisco), April 2nd 4:00-6:00 pm, NYU Philosophy Building 6th floor lounge
Grace Helton (Princeton), April 23rd 4:00-6:00 pm, room GC 5307
Past events in Fall 2019
Ellen Fridland (King’s College London), September 26th 4:00-6:00 pm, CUNY GC Rm 5307
A Theory of Skilled Action Control
In this talk, I will sketch a theory of skill, which puts control at the center of the account. First, I present a definition of skill that integrates several essential features of skill that are often ignored or sidelined on other theories. In the second section, I spell out how we should think of the intentions involved in skilled actions and in the third section, I discuss why deliberate practice and not just experience, repetition, or exposure is required for skill development. In the fourth section, I claim that practice produces control and go on to spell out the notion of control relevant for a theory of skill. In the final section, I briefly outline three kinds of control that develop as a result of practice and which manifest the skillfulness of skilled action. They are strategic control, attention control, and motor control.
Robin Dembroff (Yale), October 17th 4:00-6:00 pm, CUNY GC Rm 5307
Positions in Patriarchy: Retooling the Metaphysics of Gender
Decades of feminist theory have approached the question ‘what is gender?’ with an eye to gender as a system — in particular, the system that creates and sustains patriarchy. Using this approach, feminists have proposed theories of gender focused on the social positions that persons occupy within a patriarchal system. However, these analyses almost uniformly assume a gender binary (men & women), and so look for corresponding, binary social positions. In this talk, I defend the importance of position-based metaphysics of gender, but challenge the assumption that positions in patriarchy can be captured in a binary. Rather than throw out the baby with the bath water, I’ll propose an alternative position-based approach. It begins with modeling the key axes of the patriarchal ‘blueprint’, or the shared beliefs, norms, and attitudes at the core of dominant, western gender ideology. I’ll then build a framework for describing the variety of positions that persons can collectively occupy in relation to this blueprint. A central upshot is that metaphysics intended to illuminate and debunk gender as imagined within the western patriarchal system fails to sufficiently achieve this end when it presupposes the same binary framework. The categories men and women, I’ll argue, are not primarily descriptive, but rather, contested tools with the central function of reinforcing or revising social power.
Jessica Collins (Columbia), November 21st 4:00-6:00 pm, room CUNY GC 5307
LEARNING TRUE AND MAKING TRUE
I offer a direct argument for so-called “causal decision theory”, an argument that doesn’t depend on intuitions about wildly outlandish problem cases. The argument proceeds immediately from a distinction drawn by Frank Ramsey between the attitudes one takes towards (1) making something true and (2) merely learning that something is true. According to this argument, commitment to the theory is simply a prerequisite for viewing oneself as having and exercising agency in the world, i.e. for adopting the first-person deliberative stance. This view fits nicely with the kind of compatibilism defended recently by Jenann Ismael, in which human agents are seen as “little causal hubs” with a quite special control structure, “built to collect influence from across the landscape and filter it through a decision process that guides behavior”.
Spring 2019 Events
We are pleased to announce that the 2019 SWIP-Analytic Graduate Student Prize has been awarded to Hannah Kim for her excellent paper “Why it Might be True that an Abstract Artifact Smokes a Pipe: A Case for Representational Artifact Theory”. Thanks to everyone for their submissions!
Her talk can be found here, and the handout that accompanies the talk is below.
Barbara Montero (CUNY Graduate Center and CSI), Pain Amnesia, April 4th, CUNY GC 5307 4:15-6:15 pm
According to David Lewis, experience is the best teacher in the sense that from experience you can learn what a new experience is like. This may be true of the sorts of visual, auditory and gustatory experiences employed by Lewis and others to illuminate the nature of consciousness. But it’s not true of the experience of labor pain, since as soon as the sensation fades, women rapidly forget what the feeling was like. Here, I examine some phenomenological and empirical support for the existence of such “pain amnesia” and argue that our failure to learn from the experience of pain both exposes a lacuna in standard philosophical accounts of experience and highlights a hitherto unrecognized distinction between two forms of memory—what I call “qualitative” and “nonqualitative” memory. Beyond this, I argue that acknowledging this gap in our memory has implications for how we ought to understand rational choice and the sources of moral action.
Abstract: Despite their importance in the history of philosophy and in particular in the work of Aristotle and Kant, mental capacities have been neglected in recent philosophical work. By contrast, the notion of a capacity is deeply entrenched in psychology and the brain sciences. Driven by the idea that a cognitive system has the capacity it does in virtue of its internal components and their organization, it is standard to appeal to capacities in cognitive psychology. The main benefit of invoking capacities in an account of the mind is that it allows for an elegant counterfactual analysis of mental states: it allows us to analyze mental states on three distinct yet interrelated levels. A first level of analysis pertains to the function of mental capacities. A second level of analysis pertains to the mental capacities employed, irrespective of the context in which they are employed. A third level of analysis pertains to the mental capacities employed, taking into account the context in which they are employed. I show how an account on which perception is constitutively a matter of employing discriminatory capacities allows for a unified account of perceptual content, perceptual consciousness, and perceptual evidence.
Past Talks Fall 2018
Meghan Sullivan (Notre Dame), September 20, 4:00-6:00pm
Amie Thomasson (Dartmouth), October 18, 4:00-6:00pm
Jessica Wilson (Toronto), November 8, 4:00-6:00pm