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Current Colloquia

Colloquium attendees in the Morris Reading Room


September 8: Luvell Anderson (
3:15-5:00 PM, MUEN E113

"The Challenge of Racial Satire"
Effective satire ruffles feathers: It disrupts commonplace prejudices by deftly presenting an alternative frame of the ideas taken for granted, often irreverently. This irreverence poses a danger for the racial satirist who must attack those prejudices. Is racial satire possible in our current era? Do satire’s linguistic mechanisms ensure its irreverent critique is ethically good? In this talk, I discuss these challenges and offer thoughts about how we might navigate them.

September 29: Paul Draper (Purdue)
3:15-5:00 PM, MUEN E113

"The Intrinsic Probability of Atheism"
Abstract: The intrinsic epistemic probability of a hypothesis is the credence one ought to assign to that hypothesis simply by virtue of what it says, ignoring any incremental evidence one has for or against it. I defend the theory that such probabilities depend on how modest a hypothesis is (that is, on how little it says), on how coherent a hypothesis is (that is, on any deductive or inductive support relations between its parts), and on nothing else. I then apply this theory of intrinsic probability to a hypothesis I call “core atheism,” concluding that core atheism is highly probable intrinsically.

October 13: Katrina Elliott (Brandeis University)
3:15 - 5:00 PM, MUEN E431

"'Explains' Is Not Transitive"
Recently, I've been shopping a new view of scientific explanation.  I knew my view had some unorthodox components, but I did not expect that the most controversial implication would be that "is an ideal scientific explanation of" is an intransitive notion.  The goal of my talk, then, is to try to push back on this reaction-- that is, I'll try to convince you that it's at least reasonable to take "explains", as deployed in scientific contexts, to be an intransitive notion.  I'll begin by wondering if there's anything substantive at stake in the question of whether "explains" is transitive or intransitive.  After concluding that there is, I'll show that "explains" is not an (interestingly) transitive notion on many historically influential accounts of scientific explanation.  Then, I'll try to offer some (admittedly defeasible...) positive arguments that "explains" is an intransitive notion.

October 27: Emily Austin (Wake Forest University)
3:15 - 5:00 PM, HUMN 250

"Laughing at Tyrants: Plato on What Makes Vice Amusing"

February 2: Ram Neta (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)

March 8: Ben Bradley (Syracuse University)
3:30 PM, MUEN E131

"Conditional Value Explanations of the Procreation Asymmetry"
According to the procreation asymmetry, there are strong reasons against creating miserable lives but no reasons in favor of creating good lives. Several philosophers have recently endorsed explanations of this asymmetry that appeal to a notion of conditional value. In this paper I investigate these proposed explanations and raise some potential problems.

Past Colloquia

August 26: Jason Hanna (Northern Illinois University)
3:30 PM, Hellems 199

"Convention, Adoption, and the Sources of Parental Obligation"
Ethicists disagree about how parents incur special obligations to their children and even about who qualifies as a parent. Nonetheless, many seem to agree that adoptive parents voluntarily accept, or agree to fulfill, the obligations conventionally attached to their role. Such “conventionalist views” of adoptive parenthood face unappreciated challenges, however. In particular, it is unclear who accepts or “takes up” the quasi-agreements through which adoptive parents supposedly acquire their obligations, and it is likewise unclear why adoptive parents are bound by conventions that they may explicitly disavow. I argue that these problems should lead us to explore an alternative view: the custodial theory. The custodial theory holds that people acquire parental obligations by taking custody of children, thereby preventing others from raising them. The custodial theory appeals to a more general moral principle: if one’s control of others prevents them from receiving aid or support from third parties, one typically acquires special obligations to assist. After arguing that the custodial theory illuminates the content of adoptive parents’ duties, I show that it also helps account for the duties of biological parents.

September 16: Richard Fumerton (Iowa)

October 21: Eden Lin (Ohio State)
3:15 PM, Hellems 252

"The Value of Connection"
Many philosophers hold that some social condition, such as love or friendship, is among the basic goods that contribute to our well-being. I will argue that they are correct to posit such a basic good but mistaken about its nature.

December 2: Tyler Porter (Jentzsch Prize Winner)

January 27: Michael Della Rocca (Yale)
3:15 - 5:00 PM, Hellems 199

"The Original Sin of Analytical Philosophy”
This paper examines five crucial and influential episodes from early analytical philosophy in which Frege, Russell, Moore, and others play key roles.  In each episode, the debate is, I argue, structurally analogous to the debate over Cartesian mind-body interaction.  In particular, I argue that just as the Cartesian position in the interaction debate turns on whether the Principle of Sufficient Reason (the PSR) is rejected—Descartes, the great (as will become apparent) anti-rationalist, rejects the PSR in this case—so too the seminal positions taken up by these early analytical philosophers turn on the anti-rationalist denial of the PSR.  Further and perhaps disturbingly, these seminal positions are thus as problematic as the problematic Cartesian position with regard to mind-body interaction.

February 10: Lauren Ross (Univ of California Irvine)

"Distinctions within Causation: Causal Diversity in the Life Sciences"
Abstract: While a significant amount of philosophical work has examined various definitions of causation, little attention has been paid to distinctions within causation or diverse types of causality within a definition.  This talk provides an analysis of distinctions within causation with a focus on examples from the life sciences.  I show how these distinctions can be captured with a framework that includes: an interventionist account, a specification of primary and secondary features of causation, and a three-part causal taxonomy.  I use this to clarify how these distinctions differ from defining causation, how they capture a unique type of causal pluralism and complexity in the world, and why they are important for achieving causation-related goals, such as explanation, prediction, and control.

February 17: Shieva Kleinschmidt (USC) Cancelled - will be rescheduled

"Decompositional Plenitude"
Abstract: I will present and motivate a new form of plenitude, called "Decompositional Plenitude".  Usually, when we think about how things divide into parts, we think that if an object is completely made of some parts, then any part of that object overlaps with those parts.  To give an example:  since a table is completely made of its two halves, then any bit of the table (like a random one of its atoms, or one of the table's legs, etc.) must overlap with at least one of those halves.  If the halves make up the whole table, then we can't find any bit of the table that goes beyond them.  But... I'm going to deny this general principle!  I think sometimes an object can be a fusion of some xs, even though it has a part, y, with no parts in common with any of the xs.  This view opens new options for the sort of metaphysics we may endorse in a wide range of areas.  For instance, it provides us with new responses to the Problem of the Many and it helps us solve Russell’s Paradox of Propositions (and related paradoxes).  More generally, it allows us to avoid having to select just one way things decompose among multiple, merely arbitrarily differing alternatives.  And even more strikingly, it allows us to posit multiple decompositions in cases where those decompositions differ substantively, each capturing something important about the world.  Plus, this view comes at minimal cost if we endorse a fusion-first mereology (i.e., one that takes fusion as primitive instead of parthood, proper parthood, or overlap.)

March 3: Ted Sider (Rutgers)

"3D in High-D"
Abstract: According to the high-dimensional approach to quantum mechanics (aka wavefunction realism), the fundamental space of our world has an unfathomably large number of dimensions.  This account is empirically adequate only if the three-dimensional manifest image can somehow be recovered from high-dimensional reality.  A proper understanding of inter-level metaphysics (aka metaphysical explanation, grounding, etc.) shows that the manifest image can indeed be recovered, and answers the most concerning objections to high-dimensionalism.  But it also shows that high-dimensionalism has disturbing consequences about the objectivity of the manifest image.

April 21: Miranda Fricker (NYU)
3:15 PM, Hellems 201

"Sensibility and the Arts of Blaming and Forgiving"
I will argue that our two perhaps most fundamental responses to wrongdoing—blaming and forgiving—are helpfully viewed in a broadly functionalist light, as practices that should aim at achieving shared moral understandings between moral protagonists. If we examine what is required to achieve the well-functioning forms of these practices, then we find that they are usefully seen as moral arts in certain basic respects. They both involve irreducibly personal judgement; they essentially rely upon the operation of sensibility in order to avoid inherent pitfalls in the use of moral powers; and they are compromised, even destroyed, if they are exaggerated or forced. It is tempting to regard the fabric of morality itself as an artefact of these practices, insofar as the shared moral understandings they weave might be seen to constitute morality.

    Fall 2021

    10-1 Robert Audi (in person)

    "The Metaphysics of Determinism and the Ethics of Responsibility: A Two-Dimensional Approach to the Free Will Problem"
    A perennial problem of philosophy is the nature of free action and its relation to moral responsibility. One aspect of the problem is the issue of whether free action is possible under determinism. Scientific developments apparently make it unlikely that determinism is true; but it has not been shown to be impossible, and in any case philosophers continue to argue about its compatibility with freedom. Pursuing this debate is philosophically important whether or not determinism is true. A careful examination of the issue reveals much about what is required for free action and for moral responsibility. Many philosophers take morally responsible action to be equivalent to free action, but this equivalence has been questioned. Recently, questions have also arisen about the extent to which we are free given unconscious influences on action, including brain events affecting our behavior. This paper will offer conceptions of both determinism and freedom, explore their compatibility and their relation to moral responsibility, and consider the kinds of threats to human freedom that might be posed by neurophysiological developments.

    10-22 Sara Aronowitz
    3:15-5:00pm, Hellems 199

    "A Planning Theory of Belief"
    What does it mean to hold a belief? Some ways of speaking suggest that to hold a belief is to have something in your mind: beliefs are things we acquire, defend, recover, and so on (Abelson, 1986). That is, believing is a matter of being in a state of having a thing. I will argue for an alternative: believing is something we do. First, I'll show that state-based accounts lead us into problems in two related areas: believing in between active occurrent episodes, and incoherent sets of beliefs. I'll then present an analogy between belief and planning that fleshes out what it would mean for belief to be an activity.

    11-12 Jessica Moss
    3:15-5:00pm, Hellems 199

    "Aristotle on Knowledge, Understanding, and the Goal of Inquiry"
    Some contemporary philosophers argue that the goal of inquiry is not knowledge, but something deeper, more systematic, and involving a grasp of explanations: understanding.  There is a parallel debate in Aristotle scholarship: some argue that the mental conditions which Aristotle identifies as the goal of learning – that is, the intellectual virtues, including epistêmê (“scientific knowledge”) and phronêsis (“practical wisdom”) – should be interpreted as understanding rather than as knowledge.   I argue that this debate rests on a false dichotomy. Aristotle thinks the goal of learning is to know well.  Given his view of the nature of knowledge – as good acquaintance with objects or a domain – and his view of reality as causally structured (in the practical domain as well as in the theoretical), he holds that knowing well is understanding.

    Spring 2022

    2-25 Sam Director (Jentzsch 2020 Winner)
    3:15 - 5:00 pm, Zoom

    "Ulysses Meets Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Bipolar Disorder and Advance Directives"
    Josh is a typical 27-year-old man in a career that he enjoys and a successful marriage. Sadly, Josh begins to exhibit the symptoms of a manic episode. He is soon diagnosed with bipolar disorder. While non-manic, Josh’s preferences are typical. While manic, his preferences change dramatically. He quits his job, cheats on his wife, and squanders his savings. These are behaviors that Josh, when non-manic, would never agree to. When Josh returns to a non-manic state, he regrets these decisions. Should those close to Josh have prevented him from making these decisions, or does his acute mania not undermine his competence? In this paper, I examine the connections between bipolar disorder and consent. I defend two main claims: (1) many (although far from all) individuals with bipolar disorder are competent to consent to a wide variety of things when they are in a manic state, and (2) individuals with bipolar disorder are, while non-manic, able to enter Ulysses Contracts/advance directives that paternalistically bind their future manic but competent selves.

    In writing this paper, I have several goals. I want to develop a general theory of Ulysses Contracts that may be used widely in psychiatric practice and which can answer puzzles about binding one’s future self. I intend this theory of Ulysses Contracts to be generally applicable to any agent who wishes to bind their future competent self. In addition to the practical upshots for people with bipolar disorder, it is useful to consider bipolar disorder as it relates to the general discussion of Ulysses Contracts because it provides an incredibly useful test case.

    4-1  Shieva Kleinschmidt (postponed)

    4-29 Bret Donnelly (Jentzsch 2021 Winner)
    3:15 PM Hellems 199

    "Supervaluationism and the Truth Functionality Objection"
    Among those who hold that vague truth comes in degrees, there is disagreement about which structural constraints degrees of truth should follow. Nicholas J.J. Smith (2016) has argued that in order to be an adequate model of truth, degree semantics must be truth functional. If this argument is sound, then no supervaluationist semantics is an adequate model of truth, since no supervaluationist semantics is truth functional. I examine Smith’s argument and argue that it is unsound. At least some forms of supervaluationism can satisfy our core intuitions about truth, despite not being truth functional.

    Fall 2020

    September 11, 4:00-6:00 PM MST: Kenny Easwaran, Texas A&M, and Reuben Stern, Kansas State
    "Two Dimensions of Collective Agency"

    There is a large literature on what it takes for behavior to count as intentional action. There is also a growing literature on what it takes for collective behavior to count as a group action. We aim to show that there are two dimensions on which collective agency can vary, and not just one. This will proceed by means of many examples illustrating the way these two dimensions can interact with one another.

    Join Zoom meeting:

    October 9, 4:00-5:30 PM MST:  Una Stojnic (
    "Nonnegotiable Meanings"
    One piece of received wisdom among philosophers is that successful communication requires shared content. A speaker can convey to an audience a desire for water by uttering “I want water” just in case both can coordinate on a shared content—that the speaker desires water. Another piece of received wisdom emphasizes that competent speakers can fail to know, and often make errors, about the meanings of expressions without disrupting linguistic usage (Burge, 1979; Kripke, 1980; Putnam 1975).  What allows them to do so is that they are situated in a network of causal/social/historical connections, to which they defer in linguistic usage. Deferential Network Models were introduced to sidestep any clash between successful usage and “arguments from ignorance and error” (Devitt and Sterelny, 1999).  But, given potential ignorance, how can agents coordinate on substantive shared information successful communication presumes? How is communication possible in a world of deference?

    One reaction is to argue that little antecedent semantic knowledge is needed since we can coordinate on meanings on the fly. Some argue that meanings are constantly changing, and potentially negotiated by members of a community even during a single conversation (Armstrong, 2016, Cappelen, 2018, Carston 2002, Davidson, 1986, Haslanger 2012; 2018, Ludlow 2008, 2014, and Plunket and Sundell 2013).,

    We, however, argue that given a practice of deference, meanings are not dynamic. Meta-linguistic negotiation can neither change word meaning nor secure a mutually shared content presupposed by communication. Indeed, accounts of meta-linguistic negotiation are unsuccessful because they assume coordination on shared content of the sort that arguments from ignorance and error challenge. In response, one can either, deny that there is widespread ignorance and error, and so, a need for deference, or deny that communication requires a non-trivial mutual grasp of shared content. Either option carries a cost.

    Zoom Colloquium Room:
    Meeting ID: 921 1325 5226
    Passcode: Carnap

    April 23, 3:15-5:00 MT: Eric Brown, Washington University
    "Meno on the Value of Wisdom"

    September 27 Lisa Miracchi (University of Pennsylvania)
    "A Knowledge-First Account of the Basing Relation"

    Abstract: Existing attempts to give an account of the basing relation encounter a dilemma: either one appeals to linking or bridge principles that intellectualize and threaten regress, or one appeals to some kind of "mechanical'' process that does not adequately reflect the way basing is a first-personal activity: something we do in quite a robust sense of the word. I explain why this dilemma seems insuperable by articulating certain commitments about the nature and grounds of mental processes. I explain why these commitments should be rejected anyway. I then offer a new account of the basing relation that expands upon my view that knowledge, rather than belief, deserves priority in our scientific and philosophical explanations, and that it is best understood as a manifestation of competence. I show how the view plausibly captures both the genuinely agential and genuinely causal nature of basing.

    October 11 Seth Yalcin (University of California Berkeley)
    "Indicative Condtionals"

    Abstract: I offer a new theory of indicative conditionals, one that combines the benefits of Stalnaker’s variably strict semantics with the benefits of a dynamically strict account. The theory I develop is guided by special attention to the interaction of indicative conditionals with attitude verbs and modals. I discuss, from the perspective of this theory, the post-semantic question whether indicative conditionals express propositions

    October 25 John Bengson (University of Wisconsin Madison)
    "Understanding Others"

    Abstract: I examine a number of candidate ways of understanding other people, drawn from diverse literatures on topics such as phenomenal consciousness, action explanation, mindreading, empathy, the epistemology of language, personal identity, moral virtue, and love. I defend two positive claims about these candidates: first, each is a form of genuine understanding; second, they are distinct forms of understanding. In the course of arguing for these claims, I pinpoint two shortcomings in a currently popular philosophical methodology, and uncover reason to believe that nearly all extant theories of understanding are mistaken.

    November 8 Zak Kopeikin (University of Colorado Boulder)
    Jentzsch Prize Talk: "Contrast Cases and Intrinsic Value"
    3:15-5:00, Hellems 199

    Abstract: This paper examines and criticizes a separability principle about intrinsic value which purports to allow one to use contrast cases—i.e., cases in which all is held fixed except for the examined feature—to infer truths about intrinsic value. I argue that this principle fails to deliver truths about intrinsic value but succeeds in informing us about the feature’s intrinsic nature (and, in particular, about its disposition to be contributively valuable).

    November 15 Sarah Moss (University of Michigan)
    "Knowledge and Legal Proof"

    Abstract: Contemporary legal scholarship on evidence and proof addresses a host of apparently disparate questions: What does it take to prove a fact beyond a reasonable doubt? Why is the reasonable doubt standard notoriously elusive, even sometimes considered by courts to be impossible to define? Can the standard of proof by a preponderance of the evidence be defined in terms of probability thresholds? Why is merely statistical evidence often insufficient to meet the burden of proof?

    This talk defends an account of proof that addresses each of these questions. Where existing theories take a piecemeal approach to these puzzles, my theory develops a core insight that unifies them—namely, the thesis that legal proof requires knowledge. Although this thesis may seem radical at first, I argue that it is in fact highly intuitive; in fact, the knowledge account of legal proof does better than several competing accounts when it comes to making sense of our intuitive judgments about what legal proof requires. 

    Spring 2020

    January 31 Sinan Dogramaci (University of Texas Austin)
    "Evolutionary Explanations of Our Reliability"

    It can easily look like evolution is in a better position to explain the reliability of our perceptual beliefs than the reliability of our moral beliefs. I take a closer look at the issue and argue there’s no reason -— no reason which armchair philosophers could uncover -— to think evolution can better explain perceptual reliability than moral reliability. And I also offer a diagnosis of why it seemed otherwise. The diagnosis concerns our need to use the truth predicate as a generalizing logical device in the perceptual case.

    February 21 Rachana Kamtekar (Cornell)
    “Experience and Preconception in Epicurus’ Refutation of Determinism”

    I argue that Epicurus’ anti-determinist argument in On Nature Book 25 claims that our preconception (prolêpsis) of cause (aitia) or being causally responsible (aitios) originates in our experience (pathos) of acting through ourselves (di’ hêmôn autôn).  Epicurus uses this claim to argue that physical determinism is self-refuting:  it cannot even be stated except in terms that undermine it.  My reading of Epicurus’ self-refutation argument aims to reverse a scholarly trend: most scholars take Epicurus to be giving a pragmatic refutation of the determinist, according to which the determinist’s practical attitudes in argument, of defending her thesis and criticizing and correcting or even blaming her opponent, imply that (inconsistently with her embrace of determinism) she holds herself and her opponent responsible for their positions. I argue that the very statement of determinism makes use of a preconception—that of cause, for which the experiential basis is our acting through ourselves—which would not be available to the determinist if it were true that everything that happens, including our actions and experiences, is caused by our original constitution and environment.  Subsequently, Epicurus issues a pair of challenges that the determinist has to take on:  (1) show that we should not consider the experience of doing things through our own agency to be an instance of causation, and (2) explain the difference in our experience of voluntary and compelled action.

    Cancelled Kenny Eswaran (Texas A&M); to be rescheduled Fall 20
    Two Dimensions of Collective Agency"

    There is a large literature on what it takes for behavior to count as intentional action. There is also a growing literature on what it takes for collective behavior to count as a group action. We aim to show that there are two dimensions on which collective agency can vary, and not just one. This will proceed by means of many examples illustrating the way these two dimensions can interact with one another. This talk is based on a paper co-authored with Reuben Stern (Kansas State University).

    April 3 Shieva Kleinschmidt (University of Southern California)
    "Decompositional Plenitude"

    I will present and motivate a new form of plenitude.  According to Decompositional Plenitude, there is some object, x, that fuses some ys and yet has some part that is disjoint from each of the ys.  This view opens new options for the sort of metaphysics we may endorse in a wide range of areas.  For instance, it provides us with new responses to the Problem of the Many and it helps us solve Russell’s Paradox of Propositions (and related paradoxes).  More generally, it allows us to avoid having to select just one way things decompose among multiple, merely arbitrarily differing, at least partly disjoint alternatives.  And even more strikingly, it allows us to posit multiple, at least partly disjoint decompositions in cases where those decompositions differ substantively, each capturing something important about the world.  Finally, if we have time, I will argue that we can endorse Decompositional Plenitude with minimal cost if we also endorse a fusion-first mereology.
    The talk is based on parts of the following draft, available online: 

    Fall 2018

    September 14th Anjan Chakravartty (University of Miami)
    "Scientific Disagreement, Uniqueness, and Permissive Rationality"
    3:15 PM
     Scientists often disagree about what our best science reveals, even when plausibly regarded as epistemic peers, but some philosophers hold that given some evidence, there is only one rational option regarding what epistemic peers should believe. Thus it seems that either scientific beliefs are often irrational, or the uniqueness thesis is false. I argue that in some cases disagreement is properly characterized in terms of contrary hopes and heuristic commitments rather than contrary beliefs about what our best science reveals. The latter case is typified by juxtapositions of belief and agnosticism, indicative of underlying commitments that are not themselves propositional or evidential but that are nonetheless rational. The upshot is a rejection of uniqueness and a moderately permissive conception of rationality appropriate to scientific disagreement.

    October 5th Reinhardt Lecture: John Bell, University of Western Ontario. Organized by the Reinhardt Lecture rep in consultation with the Chair of Math.
    "Infinitesimals and the Labyrinth of the Continuum"
    3:15 PM, HLMS 199
    Click here for abstract (PDF).

    October 12th Susan Wolf (UNC)

    November 16th  Rik Peels (Amsterdam)
    "Can Trust Be Voluntary?"
    In this paper, I defend an answer to the question whether trust can be voluntary and, if so, how. First, I make the question more precise by qualifying it in various ways and specifying which kind of trust I am talking about. Next, I consider to what extent trust is voluntary if trust, as some philosophers have argued, is a particular kind of belief. This is a minority view among philosophers working on trust, but even if it is correct, it only works if so-called doxastic compatibilism is true—a particular view on what control over our beliefs amounts to. I argue that if that view is correct as well, we would save responsibility for trust or lack of trust, but not the idea that we choose or decide whether or not to trust. After that, I explain what counts in favor of the thesis that trust is voluntary. I show that there are at least two and possibly three different ways in which trust can be under our control: the constitutive element of reliance is often under our control, the constitutive element of resilience to evidence is often under our control, and there are situations in which we know that trusting actually sufficiently raises a person’s trustworthiness so that we can choose to trust.
    Rik Peels is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Among his most recent books are Responsible Belief: A Theory in Ethics and Epistemology (OUP 2017), and Scientism: Prospects and Problems, ed. with Jeroen de Ridder and René van Woudenberg (OUP 2018). E-mail:

    Spring 2019

    January 25th  Dominic Lopes (UBC)
    "Beyond the Pleasure Principle: Autonomy in Kant’s Aesthetics"
    Aesthetic hedonism is the view that to be aesthetically good is to please. For most aesthetic hedonists, the normativity of pleasure sources the normativity of aesthetic value. This paper argues that Kant is an aesthetic hedonist with a non-hedonic account of the normativity of aesthetic value. Instead, Kant sources the normativity of aesthetic value in autonomy, tying his aesthetics into a key theme of his larger philosophy, also promising a neo-Kantian research program that promises to make sense of aesthetic value's the deep importance.

    February 15th  Julia Jorati (OSU)
    "Leibniz on Embodied Cognition and the Imagination"

    April 12th  Rachel Barney (Toronto)
    “Becoming Bad: Aristotle on Habituation into Vice”
    3:15-5:00pm, Hellems 199

    Abstract: According to Aristotle, moral viciousness, like virtue, is acquired through habituation — that is, by repeatedly doing the wrong thing. But he has little to say about the process, and his conception of vice is in general rather mysterious. How exactly does bad (or good) action embed a disposition in a person’s character? How can viciousness be learnt like a craft, as Aristotle also claims? What should we make of his idea that it involves a kind of perversion of reason? And can his view really capture the worst kind of character, deserving of names like bad, vicious, and evil? 

    Professor Stewart Cohen (University of Arizona)
    "Theorizing About the Epistemic"
    Friday Sept 8 2017, 3:15-5:00 PM, UMC 247
    Abstract: I argue that epistemologists’ use of the term ‘epistemic’ has led to serious confusion in the discussion of epistemological issues. The source of the problem is that ‘epistemic’ functions largely as an undefined technical term. I show how this confusion has infected discussions of the nature of epistemic justification, epistemic norms for evidence gathering, and knowledge norms for assertion and belief.


    Professor Peter Klein (Rutgers University)
    Rescheduled for Spring 18, date/time TBA
    Title TBA

    Professor Kendy Hess (Holy Cross)
    Friday Oct 13 2017, 3:15-5:00 PM, EDUC 220
    "...And There Be Dragons: Modern Corporations As Political Actors"
    Abstract: Despite decades of debate about the moral status of corporate agents, there has been surprisingly little exploration of their political status.  This paper thus begins with a brief sketch of my own account of corporate agents – from metaphysics to moral obligation – and then moves on to explore some of the political implications.  Setting aside the question of political rights and duties, I consider the permissibility of three modes of political engagement:  (1) as citizens, attempting to influence government policy; (2) as an extension of the government, under government direction, and (3) as the government, exercising governmental authority in their own right.  I suggest that the first two are unproblematic (if complicated).  Proponents of the third argue that, in the absence of a successful state, literal “corporations” (a subset of corporate agents) should step in and govern; they call this ”political corporate social responsibility.”  I close by considering how my theory of corporate agency helps us resist this proposal.

    Professor Susan Sauvé Meyer (Penn)
    Friday Jan 26 2018, 3:15-5:00 PM, Hellems 269
    "Raw Virtue and Its Refinements: The Ranking of Divine Goods in Plato’s Laws"

    Spencer Case (Jentzsch Prize Colloquium Talk)
    Fri Feb 2 2018, 3:15-5:00 PM, Hellems 137
    "From Epistemic to Moral Realism"
    Abstract: Some philosophers defend moral realism with the following argument. If epistemic realism is true, then moral realism is true; epistemic realism is true; therefore, moral realism is true. I refer to this as the "Epistemic Argument" for moral realism. Why should we accept the link between epistemic and moral realism, the so-called "Parity Premise"? The standard argument that has been given for it are unpersuasive, I argue. However, the Epistemic Argument can be salvaged. Here I provide two original arguments in favor of the Parity Premise, which rest upon the interrelatedness of epistemic and moral claims.

    Professor David Enoch (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
    Fri Feb 9 2018, 3:15-5:00 PM, Hellems 201
    "Against Utopianism: Noncompliance and Multiple Agents"
    Abstract: One of the central issues in recent debates over ideal andnon-ideal theory (in political philosophy) has been whether it's a shortcoming in a normative theory in political philosophy that it is unlikely to be complied with. I intervene in that debate, arguing that while David Estlund is correct that "But I'm not gonna!" is never a refutation of an ought judgment addressed at the relevant agent, still he's wrong about the most important cases – these are cases of multiple agents, and the fact that another agent may not act as they ought to may very well be relevant to what I ought to do. Thus, this discussion in political philosophy requires taking a stand on the general moral question – how does the expected violation of some affect the duties of others.

    Professor Susan Schneider (University of Connecticut)
    Friday March 16 2018, 3:15-5:00 PM
    Title TBA

    Professor David Schmidtz (University of Arizona)
    Friday April 27 2018, 3:15-5:00 PM

    Professor Emeritus Robert Cummins (UC Davis)
    "Neuroscience, Psychology, Reduction, and Functional Analysis"
    Thursday Sep 29, 2016 3:15pm
    Abstract: The pressure for reduction in science is an artifact of what we call the nomic conception of science (NCS): the idea that the content of science is a collection of laws, together with the deductive-nomological model of explanation. NCS in effect identifies explanation with reduction, thus making no room for the explanatory autonomy of function-analytical explanations. When we replace NCS with something more descriptively accurate, however, we find that the kind of explanatory autonomy of functional-analytic explanations is ubiquitous in the sciences. Key to showing this is a distinction between horizontal and vertical explanation. Horizontal explanations explain the capacities of a complex system by appeal to the design of the system. Vertical explanations, by contrast, explain how a design is implemented in a system. We argue that the distinction between horizontal and vertical explanations provides us with a better picture of the relationship between functional analysis and mechanistic explanation. As we see it, the goal of discovering and specifying mechanisms is often or largely undertaken to explain how the analyzing capacities specified by a functional analysis—in short, a design—are implemented in some system. In this way, the horizontal explanations provided by functional analysis and the vertical explanations provided by specifying mechanisms complement each other. Co-authored with Martin Roth (Drake U.)

    Professor Monique Wonderly (Princeton University Center for Human Values)
    Friday Jan 27, 2017 3:15-5:00 PM
    Philosophers have employed two different varieties of felt necessity to explain central aspects of agency in addiction and love, respectively. In addiction, the relevant felt need is often described in terms of an appetite, whereas love is characterized by necessities arising from a particular kind of caring. On my view, the extant literature offers an instructive, but incomplete picture of the roles of felt necessity in addiction and love. I argue that a third form of felt necessity – attachment necessity – often better captures central aspects of agency in love and addiction.  Recognizing the role of attachment necessity will not only illuminate how felt necessity can impact the value of certain relationships, but it will also allow us to discern important features of addiction and love that remain obscured on extant approaches.

    Professor Nina Emery (Brown)
    "Laws and their Instances"
    Monday Feb 13 2017
    3:00-5:00pm, HLMS 181

    Professor Carolina Sartorio (Arizona)
    "The Actual Causes Model of Free Will"
    Friday Feb 17, 2017

    Professor Paula Gottlieb (Wisconsin-Madison)
    "Aristotelian 'Choice'"
    Friday Mar 10, 2017
    3:15-5:00pm, HLMS 201
    Prof. Gottlieb specializes in ancient Greek philosophy. She is the author, among many other works, of The Virtue of Aristotle’s Ethics (Cambridge UP 2009) .
    Abstract: "Choice" is one translation for Aristotelian "prohairesis". Elizabeth Anscombe comments: "The notion of 'choice' as conceived by Aristotle is a very peculiar one…If it had been a winner, like some other Aristotelian concepts, would not prohairetic be as familiar to us as practical is?" Prohairesis can be good or bad.  I argue that the good person’s prohairesis is a special kind of motivation, a combination of thought and desire that is not classifiable according to Humean or Kantian frames of reference, and that "prohairetic" should be in our vocabulary after all.


    Caspar Hare, MIT
    "Should We Wish Well to All?"
    Friday, September 25, 2015, 3:15 PM
    Hellems 252

    Amie Thomasson, Miami
    Friday, October 16, 2015, 3:15 PM
    Title and location TBD

    Dan Demetriou, University of Minnesota Morris
    Alumni Talk
    "Defense with Dignity: How the Dignity of Violent Resistance Informs the Gun Rights Debate"
    Friday, November 13, 2015, 3:15 PM
    Location TBD

    Ernest Sosa, Rutgers University
    Friday January 15th, 2016, 3:15 PM
    Title and location TBD

    • Hilary Kornblith, University of Massachusetts Amherst
    • Friday, September 19, 2014, 3:15 PM
    • Title and location TBD


    • Lisa Downing, Ohio State University
    • Friday, October 17, 2014, 3:15 PM
    • "Are Body and Extension the Same Thing?: Locke vs. Descartes (vs. More)", HLMS 252


    • Tommie Shelby, Harvard University
    • Friday, November 14, 2014, 3:15 PM
    • "Procreating, Parenting, and Poverty" HLMS 267


    • Kelly Weirich, University of Colorado at Boulder
    • Friday, December 5, 2014, 3:15 PM
    • "Conditional Flexibility", 2014 Jentzsch Prize winner (Location TBA)


    • Heather Demarest, University of Oklahoma
    • Friday January 16th, 2015, 3:15 PM
    • "Fission May Kill You, but Not for the Reasons You Thought", UMC 386
    • Amie Thomasson, University of Miami
    • Friday, February 27th, 2015, 3:15 PM
    • Title and location TBD

    • Mary Louise Gill, Brown University
    • Friday, November 15, 2013, 3:15 PM


    • Douglas Portmore, Arizona State University
    • "Acts, Attitudes, and Rational Choice"
    • Friday February 7, 2014, 3:15 PM
    • HLMS 199
    • Pre-Talk Reception 2:30-3:15 HLMS 269


    • Ram Neta, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
    • "What is an Inference?"
    • Friday February 21, 2014, 3:15 PM
    • HLMS 199

    • Noel Saenz, Jentzsch Prize winner, Spring 2012
    • "A Non-Revisionary Solution to the Grounding Problem"
    • Friday, February 15, 2013, 3:15 p.m.
    • HLMS 267


    • Niko Kolodny, UC Berkeley
    • "Rule Over None: Social Equality and the Value of Democracy"
    • Friday, March 1, 2013, 3:15 p.m.
    • HLMS 267


    • Michael Rea, University of Notre Dame
    • "Time Travelers Are Not Free"
    • Friday, March 22, 2013, 3:15 p.m.
    • HLMS 267

    • Roger White, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    • "Disrespecting the Evidence"
    • Friday, Sept. 28, 2012, 3:15 p.m.
    • HUMN 1B90


    • Richard Kraut, Northwestern University
    • "An Aesthetic Reading of Aristotle's Ethics"
    • Friday, October 19, 2012, 3:15 p.m.
    • HUMN 1B90


    • Seana Shiffrin, UCLA
    • "Duress and Moral Progress"
    • Friday, November 9, 2012, 3:15 p.m.
    • HLMS 267


    • Berit Brogaard, Missouri, St. Louis
    • "Phenomenal Seemings and Sensible Dogmatism"
    • Friday, Feb. 3, 2012, 3:15 p.m.
    • HUMN 1B50


    • Steven Nadler, Wisconsin, Madison
    • "The Lives of Others: The Ethics of Spinoza's Ethics"
    • Friday, March 2, 2012, 3:15 p.m.
    • HUMN 1B80

    • Barbara Herman, UCLA
    • “Making Exceptions”
    • Friday, January 21, 2011, 3:15 p.m.
    • UMC 245


    • John Corvino, Wayne State University
    • "The Definition of Marriage"
    • Wednesday, February 2, 2011, 3:00pm
    • HUMN 1B50


    • Marc Moffett, University of Wyoming
    • "Know-How and Intelligent Action"
    • Friday, February 18, 2011, 3:15pm
    • HUMN 1B50
    • Professor Moffett's colloquium is this year's Alumni Talk


    • Charles Mills, Northwestern University
    • "De-Racializing Rawls"
    • Friday, March 11, 2011, 3:15 p.m.
    • Old Main Chapel


    • Ken Gemes, University of London
    • "Probability and Confirmation"
    • Friday, April 8, 2011, 3:15 p.m.
    • HLMS 199
    • (co-sponsored by Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures, and Humanities)


    • David Chalmers, Australian National University
    • "Two Puzzles about the Contingent A Priori"
    • Monday, April 25, 2011, 3:15 p.m.
    • Old Main Chapel


    • Brian Leiter, Chicago
    • "Moral Skepticism and Moral Disagreement in Nietzsche"
    • Friday, July 22, 2011, 12:30 - 2 p.m.
    • Hellems 245


    • Christopher Shields, Oxford
    • "Hylomorphic Mental Causation"
    • Wednesday, July 27, 2011, 12:30 - 2 p.m.
    • Hellems 245


    • Tamar Szabo Gendler, Yale
    • "Alphabetical Order? Alief/Belief, Concord/Discord, Ethics… On some philosophical implications of recent empirical work in moral psychology"
    • Friday, September 16, 2011, 3:15 p.m.
    • HUMN 1B50


    • Michelle Montague, Bristol
    • "Conscious Thought"
    • Friday, Sept. 30, 2011, 3:15 p.m.
    • HUMN 1B50
    • Professor Montague's colloquium is this year's Alumni Talk.


    • Gisela Striker, Harvard University
    • "Epicurus' Democritean Epistemology"
    • Friday, October 7, 2011, 3:15 p.m.
    • HUMN 135


    • Christian Lee, CU Boulder
    • "Vague Intuitions and Knowledge"
    • Friday, Oct. 14, 2011, 3:15 p.m.
    • HUMN 135
    • Mr. Lee's colloquium is this year's Jentzsch Prize Talk.


    • Stuart Rachels, Alamaba, Tuscaloosa
    • "Vegetarianism"
    • Friday, Nov. 4, 2011, 3:15 p.m.
    • HALE 270


    • Zoltan Gendler Szabo, Yale
    • "Impure Modals"
    • Friday, Dec. 2, 2011, 3:15 p.m.
    • HUMN 150

    • Abigail Gosselin, Regis University
    • Friday, January 15, 3:15 pm
    • HUMN 250
    • "Drugs and Human Functioning: An Anti-Essentialist Approach to Assessing Drug Use"
    • Professor Gosselin's colloquium is this year's Alumni Talk.


    • Nic Damnjanovic, University of Western Australia
    • Friday, January 22, 3:15 p.m.
    • "Revelation for the Masses"


    • David Benatar, University of Cape Town, South Africa
    • Monday, April 19, 3:15 p.m.
    • EKLC E1B20
    • "The Second Sexism"
    • Professor Benatar's talk is part of this year's Morris Colloquium.


    • Ted Sider, New York University
    • "The Metaphysics of Fundamentality"
    • Friday, September 3, 2010, 3:15 pm
    • HUMN 150


    • John Doris, Washington University of St. Louis
    • Friday, October 15, 2010, 3:15 p.m.
    • HUMN 150
    • "A Natural History of the Self"


    • Noel Saenz, University of Colorado at Boulder
    • Friday, October 29, 2010, 3:15 p.m.
    • HLMS 201
    • "Is Modal Fictionalism a Fiction?"
    • Mr. Saenz' colloquium is this year's Jentzsch Prize Talk.


    • Linda Zagzebski, University of Oklahoma
    • Friday, November 12, 2010, 3:15 p.m.
    • HLMS 201
    • "Trust in Emotions"

    • Robert Wilson, University of Alberta
    • Friday, March 6, 3:15 PM, HUMN 250
    • "Mind Spread"


    • John Martin Fischer, UC Riverside
    • Friday, April 3, 3:15 PM, HUMN 250
    • "Frankfurt-Type Cases: The Moral of the Stories"


    • Gareth Matthews, UMass Amherst
    • Friday, April 17, 3:15 PM, HUMN 250
    • "Why Plato Lost Interest in the Socratic Method"


    • John Perry, Stanford/UC Riverside
    • "On Knowing One's Self"
    • Friday, August 28, 2009; 3:15 p.m.
    • HUMN 150


    • Aaron Meskin, Leeds University
    • "Two Kinds of Aesthetic Contextualism"
    • Thursday, October 22, 2009; 3:15 p.m.
    • HUMN 150


    • Frank Jackson, Princeton/ANU
    • "Direct Realism for Representationalists"
    • Friday, December 11, 2009
    • HLMS 199

    • Mathias Risse, Harvard University
    • Friday, February 8 at 3:15 PM, Eaton Humanities 150
    • "Common Ownership as a Non-Parochial Standpoint: A Contingent Derivation of Human Rights"


    • Verity Harte, Yale University
    • Friday, February 22 at 3:15 PM, Eaton Humanities 150
    • "Republic X and the Role of the Audience in Art"


    • Jeff McMahan, Rutgers University
    • Friday, March 14 at 3:15 PM, Eaton Humanities 150
    • "Humanitarian Intervention, Consent, and Proportionality".


    • Elijah Millgram, University of Utah
    • Friday, September 26, 3:15 PM, HUMN 150
    • "Lewis's Epicycles, Possible Worlds, and the Mysteries of Modality"


    • Timothy Williamson, University of Oxford
    • Wednesday, October 8, 3:15 PM, Old Main Chapel
    • "Objects, Properties and Contingent Existence"


    • David Owens, University of Sheffield
    • Wednesday, October 15, 3:15 PM, Old Main Chapel
    • "Promising Without Intending"


    • Kristin Demetriou, University of Colorado at Boulder
    • Friday, October 24 at 3:15 PM, HUMN 150
    • "The Soft-Line Solution to the Four-Case Argument"
    • Ms. Demetriou's colloquium is this year's Jentzsch Prize Talk.


    • Shelley Wilcox, San Francisco State University
    • Friday, November 14, 3:15 PM, HUMN 150
    • "Citizenship and the Urban Environment"
    • Professor Wilcox's colloquium is this year's Alumni Talk.


    • Phil Dowe, University of Queensland
    • Friday, December 5 at 3:15 PM, HUMN 150
    • "A-Theories and Loops in Time"
    • Margaret Walker, Arizona State University
    • Friday, March 2 at 3:15 PM, Eaton Humanities 150
    • "The Politics of Transparency and the Moral Work of Truth-Telling"


    • Michael Potter, University of Cambridge
    • Friday, March 16 at 3:15 PM, Eaton Humanities 150
    • "Does Mathematics Need Replacement (and Is It Even True)?"
    • Professor Potter's colloquium is our Reinhardt Lecture in the Philosophy of Mathematics


    • Russ Shafer-Landau, University of Wisconsin--Madison
    • Friday, April 13 at 3:15 PM, Eaton Humanities 150
    • TBA


    • Rachel Singpurwalla, Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville
    • Friday, April 27 at 3:15 PM, Eaton Humanities 150
    • "Reason and the Divided Soul in Plato's Republic"
    • Professor Singpurwalla's colloquium is this year's Alumni Talk.


    • Jason Wyckoff, University of Colorado at Boulder
    • Friday, September 7 at 3:15 PM, Eaton Humanities 150
    • "On the Failure of the Fair Play Account of Political Obligation"
    • Mr. Wyckoff's colloquium is this year's Jentzsch Prize Talk.


    • Mark Heller, Syracuse University
    • Friday, October 19 at 3:30 pm, EDUC 231
    • "Contextualism, Closure, and Disquotation"


    • Hud Hudson, Western Washington University
    • Friday, October 26 at 3:15 PM, Eaton Humanities 150
    • "Omnipresence"


    • James Pryor, New York University
    • Friday, November 9 at 3:15 PM, Eaton Humanities 150
    • "When Warrant Transmits"

    • Mark Colyvan, University of Queensland, Australia
    • Friday, January 20 at 3:15 PM, Hazel Barnes Room Hellems 196
    • "Modeling the Moral Dimension of Decisions"


    • Thomas Pogge, Australian National University And Columbia University
    • Friday, February 10 at 1:00 PM, Eaton Humanities 150
    • "Why Inequality Matters: An Instrumental Argument"


    • Richard Boyd, Cornell University
    • Friday, February 24 at 3:15 PM, Eaton Humanities 150
    • "Natural Kinds and Philosophical Naturalism: What's 'Natural' About Natural Kinds?


    • Jan Wolenski, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland
    • Monday, March 13 at 3:15 PM in the Hazel Barnes Seminar Room, Hellems 196
    • "On Interpreting Tarski's Theory of Truth"


    • Geoff Sayre-McCord, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
    • Friday, March 17 at 3:15 PM, Eaton Humanities 150
    • "The Nature of Normative Concepts"


    • Dermot Moran, University College Dublin and Rice University
    • Friday, April 7 at 3:15 PM, Eaton Humanities 150
    • "Husserl's Transcendental Idealism and the Critique of Naturalism"


    • Sara Goering, University of Washington
    • Friday, April 14 at 3:15 PM, Eaton Humanities 150
    • "Disability, Genetics and Justice"
    • Professor Goering's colloquium is this year's Alumni Talk.


    • Thomas Holden, University of California Santa Barbara
    • Friday, September 15 at 3:15 PM, Eaton Humanities 250
    • "Natural Religion and Moral Prohibition in Hume's 'Of Suicide'"


    • James Van Cleve, University of Southern California
    • Friday, September 29 at 3:15 PM, Eaton Humanities 250
    • "Mechanics and Morals of Double Vision"


    • Richard Fumerton, University of Iowa
    • Friday, October 20 at 3:15 PM, Eaton Humanities 250
    • "Epistemic Conservatism: Theft or Honest Toil?"


    • Kit Fine, New York University
    • Friday, November 3 at 3:15 PM, Eaton Humanities 250
    • "Response-Dependent Concepts"


    • Alastair Norcross, Rice University
    • Friday, December 1 at 3:15 PM, Eaton Humanities 250
    • "Two Dogmas of Deontology: Aggregation, Rights, and the Separateness of Persons"
    • This talk is sponsored by a GCAH Visiting Scholar Grant.

    Louise Antony, The Ohio State University
    Friday, October 7, 3:15 pm, HUMN 150
    “Is ‘Non-Conceptual Content’ Content?”

    Graeme Forbes, Tulane University
    Monday, October 24, 3:15 pm, HLMS 196
    "The Simple-Sentence Debate"

    Jonathan Schaffer, University of Massachusetts
    Friday, October 28, 3:15 pm, HUMN 150

    Graeme Forbes, Tulane University
    Monday, October 31, 3:15 pm, HLMS 196
    "Depiction Verbs: Can You Paint a Proposition?"

    Sally Haslanger, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Friday, November 4, 3:15 pm, HUMN 150
    "What Good Are Our Intuitions About Race? Philosophical Analysis and Social Kinds"

    Dan Jacobson, Bowling Green State University
    Monday, November 28, 3:15 pm, HLMS 241
    “Utilitarianism Without Consequentialism"