Department of Philosophy

News and Events

Spring 2014 Schedule

January 17: (Philosophy Department Colloquium)

Sharyn Clough (Oregon State University)
Title: Feminist Philosophy of Science (abstract)

January 24: (Victoria Colloquium on Political, Social, and Legal Theory)

Janine Brodie (Distinguished Professor and Canada Research Chair in Political Economy and Social Governance, University of Alberta)
Law 152 at 2:30pm
Title: TBA
Pre-seminar: Friday, January 17, 12:30-2:00

January 31: (Philosophy Department Colloquium)

Colin Marshall (University of Washington)
Title: A metaphysical reading of Kant's moral semantics (abstract)
CLE A203 at 2:30pm

February 21: (Philosophy Department Colloquium)

Hyunseop Kim (Stanford University)
Title: Why We ought to Accept, as opposed to Believe, Non-Natural Moral Realism (abstract)
CLE A203 at 2:30pm

February 28: (Victoria Colloquium on Political, Social, and Legal Theory)

Fonna Forman (Political Science, University of California San Diego)
Law 152 at 2:30pm
Title: TBA
Pre-seminar: Friday, February 21, 12:30-2:00

March 13: (Lansdowne Lecture)

Kathrin Koslicki (University of Alberta)
Title: Independence and Unity: A theory of fundamentality for substances (abstract)
David Strong C118 at 7:00pm

March 14: (Philosophy Department Colloquium)

Kathrin Koslicki (University of Alberta)
Title: Absolute, Relational and Comparative Substancehood in Aristotle (abstract)
CLE A203 at 2:30pm

March 21: (Victoria Colloquium on Political, Social, and Legal Theory)

Ingrid Robeyns (Philosophy, Erasmus University Rotterdam)
Law 152 at 2:30pm
Title: TBA
Pre-seminar: Friday, March 14, 12:30-2:00

April 4: (Philosophy Department Colloquium)

Mark Hinchliff (Reed College)
Title: The Mutable Future (abstract)
CLE A203 at 2:30pm

Fall 2013 Schedule

September 27: (Victoria Colloquium on Political, Social, and Legal Theory) 

Jim Tully (UVic)
Law 152 at 2:30pm
Title: A Presentation and Discussion of Dipesh Chakrabarty's "The Anthropocene and Its Challenge to Humanist Thought"
Pre-seminar: Friday, September 20, 12:30-2:00

October 18: (Victoria Colloquium on Political, Social, and Legal Theory)

Anthony Simon Laden (Professor and Chair, Department of Philosophy, University of Illinois at Chicago)
Law 152 at 2:30pm
Title: TBA
Pre-seminar: Friday, October 11, 12:30-2:00

October 25: (Philosophy Department Colloquium)

David Owen (University of Arizona)
CLE A203 at 2:30pm
Title: Locke on Sensitive Knowledge (abstract)

October 29: (Philosophy Film Forum)

A Dangerous Mind (documentary on Peter Singer)
Cinecenta at 3pm
Discussion afterwards with Dr. Scott Woodcock

November 22: (Philosophy Department Colloquium)

Murat Aydede (UBC)
Title: Transparency, Introspection, and the Experience of Pain (abstract)

November 29: (Victoria Colloquium on Political, Social, and Legal Theory)

Shlomi Segall (Political Science, Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
Law 152 at 2:30pm
Title: TBA
Pre-seminar: Friday, November 22, 12:30-2:00

We also have a pdf version of the Victoria Colloqium schedule.


Abstracts

October 25: (Philosophy Department Colloquium)

David Owen (University of Arizona)
Title: Locke on Sensitive Knowledge
Abstract: Locke on sensitive knowledge has always been troublesome. It doesn't appear to fit into Locke's account of knowledge as the perception of the agreement or disagreement of any two ideas. I'll consider, and reject, the recent claim that Locke really thought that sensitive knowledge was not knowledge, but probability. I offer an account that takes seriously the distinction between general propositions and existential propositions about particulars. Locke distinguishes these two sort of propositions in the last 2 paragraphs of 4.11, "Of our Knowledge of the Existence of other Things". These paragraphs sum up Locke's account of knowledge of other things, and explicitly contrasts it with general knowledge. These two paragraphs have been strangely neglected.

November 22: (Philosophy Department Colloquium)

Murat Aydede (UBC)
Title: Transparency, Introspection, and the Experience of Pain
Abstract: In recent years, a number of philosophers of mind have argued that the experience of pain is transparent in a very strong sense: that the introspection of feeling a pain in a body part doesn't reveal any qualities that are over and above those that figure in the representational content of pain experiences.  In other words, in feeling pain in a body part, we are perceptually presented with nothing but some physical condition of that part (some kind of physical disturbance), and introspection doesn't go beyond recording this fact. I will clarify the thesis and formulate some conditions on introspection (of experiences). I will show that the strong transparency thesis is false.  In the process, I hope to remove the burden on qualia theorists to formulate how it is that introspection can reveal intrinsic qualities of experiences that go over and above those implicated in their intentional content.

January 17: (Philosophy Department Colloquium)

Sharyn Clough (Oregon State University)
Title: Feminist Philosophy of Science
Abstract: As a feminist philosopher of science, my research focus is on the concept of objectivity in science, especially as it is deployed in biomedical sciences. Many people (perhaps a majority of them) think that if scientists let their political values affect their research, then those values will interfere with the objectivity of the research. The situation is presumed to be even worse when non-scientists, such as politicians, or otherwise politically-motivated individuals or groups, such as feminists, try to influence scientific research. I think, however, that much depends on what we mean by political values, objectivity, and scientific research. I argue that once we get clearer about what we mean, we’ll find that political values affect scientific research all the time, but not always for the worse, sometimes for the better. This is counter-intuitive: I need to show that and how we can make the distinction between political values that affect science for the better, and those that affect it for the worse. I admit that, as with everything, we might get the distinction wrong in particular cases. But, I argue, there are ways to check. And we might get it right. More than ever, it is important that we get it right. 

January 31: (Philosophy Department Colloquium)

Colin Marshall (Washington State)
Title: A metaphysical reading of Kant's moral semantics
Abstract: I argue that Kant held that moral 'ought' facts were analytically entailed by noumenal 'is' facts, and that ascribing this view to him is not as uncharitable as it might seem. I begin by describing the textual support for my reading, then explain its interpretive pay-offs. I conclude by considering several philosophical objections.

February 21: (Philosophy Department Colloquium)

Hyunseop Kim (Stanford University)
Title: Why We ought to Accept, as opposed to Believe, Non-Natural Moral Realism
Abstract: In this paper, I propose a (meta-)meta-ethical position and sketch out an argument in its defense. I explain some characteristics of acceptance that distinguish it from belief as well as from mere supposition and pretense. I argue that we do not have conclusive reason to reject non-natural moral realism, so it is justifiable to believe that there might be attitude-independent, non-natural moral facts. Since we do not know for sure that these robust moral facts do not exist, we can accept them and act on the acceptance without self-deception or pretense. I examine a practical reason to accept robust moral facts in our practical reasoning and action - strengthening our moral will - and respond to the worry that accepting them without conclusive evidence would encourage epistemic vices. I clarify my meta-ethical view further by comparing it with moral fictionalism. I argue that it is superior to moral fictionalism both as a descriptive and a prescriptive account.

March 13: (Lansdowne Lecture)

Kathrin Koslicki (University of Alberta)
Title: Independence and Unity: A theory of funamentality for substances.
Abstract: For most of the second half of the twentieth century, ontology (the study of being) was construed as concerned primarily with questions of existence, i.e., questions of the form, "What is there?". In fact, however, some of the most interesting and important debates which properly belong to the study of being do not concern existential questions at all; rather, such disputes in some cases focus on non-existential disagreements over questions of fundamentality. A case in point is the dispute between Plato and Aristotle over whether particulars or universals should be assigned the ontologically fundamental role of substances. In this lecture, we will explore the question of how best to develop a broader conception of the study of being which does justice to such non-existential disputes over questions of fundamentality.

March 14: (Philosophy Department Colloquium)

Kathrin Koslicki (University of Alberta)
Title: Absolute, Relational and Comparative Substancehood in Aristotle
Abstract: Aristotle uses his central term, "ousia" ("substance"), in an absolute, a relational and a comparative sense, to designate items as substances simpliciter, as the substances of something else, or as more or less deserving of substance status. We arrive at the most plausible reading of Aristotle's conception of substancehood when we focus on the relational and comparative, rather than the absolute, notion. As a result, however, no one type of entity comes out as the clear favorite with respect to all of Aristotle's criteria for substancehood.

April 4: (Philosophy Department Colloquium)

Mark Hinchliff (Reed College)
Title: The Mutable Future
Abstract: That the past is necessary and the future contingent are two venerable ideas. A canonical understanding of these ideas, arising from our interest in the question of free will, is that no agent is now able to prevent any past state of affairs, but some agent is now able to prevent some future state of affairs. So if it is a contingent fact that there will be a sea battle tomorrow, there is a possible world in which one of us brings it about that a sea battle doesn't occur tomorrow. Our idea that the past is necessary also suggests a different understanding, one which we perhaps sometimes express when we say that we can't change the past. This paper explores this non-canonical idea that the past is inalterable or immutable, and the future is mutable. It aims to show how the idea of a mutable future differs from the canonical understanding of a preventable future, to show how we might address a few obvious difficulties for the view, and last, to sketch a couple of implications and connections.