Upcoming Events


Hope and Hiddenness: A Framework for Defense
Fri March 3, 2:40, UH 237
Daniel Speak, Loyola Marymount University

There is a prima facie compelling argument that leverages weaknesses in our epistemic position with respect to the proposition that God exists into a case that this being probably does not exist. This is to say that the so-called problem of divine hiddenness, understood in terms of an argument for atheism, is a real and substantial one. In this paper, I will contribute to the development of a defense against this formidable problem. My contributions are embedded within a wider defensive posture, and depend eventually on some claims about the nature and value of something like hope.


Past Events

Truth, Lies and Bullshit:
Reflections on Contemporary Political Discourse

Chris Naticchia, Matthew Davidson, Tony Roy

Video of 1/25/17 Panel Discussion

Particulary in the present political context, we encounter fraught disputes over truth, lies and bullshit. In a panel discussion, faculty explore what these are, and develop some examples from current events. This introductory part will be followed by open discussion.


A Reliable Route from Is to Ought
Wed Jan 18, 2:40, UH 237
Neil Sinhababu, National University of Singapore

I present a strategy by which moral knowledge can be derived from nonmoral knowledge, using insights from reliabilist epistemology. The strategy begins by discovering which cognitive processes generate which moral and nonmoral beliefs. We can then assess the reliability of these cognitive processes for moral belief formation by considering to what extent they produce true belief on nonmoral issues, and by checking whether they produce contradictory moral beliefs in different people. By retaining reliably caused beliefs and abandoning unreliably caused ones, we can move closer to moral truth. No normative ethical assumptions are required.


Each Thing is Fundamental: Against Hylomorphism and Hierarchial Structure
Friday October 28, 2:40 pm, UH 237
M. Oreste Fiocco, UC Irvine

In this paper, I argue that not only is no thing any more or less real than another, but no thing is prior to another in any robust ontological sense. No thing can explain the very existence of another, nor account for how another is what it is. Thus, I maintain that each thing is fundamental. I reach this conclusion by considering first hylomorphism. Examining in light of a compelling account of explanation the putative problems this venerable doctrine is traditionally supposed to solve reveals that the problems are merely demands to explain what cannot be but inexplicable. These considerations undercut the motivation for hylomorphism, yet they also illuminate the best way to understand the being, that is, essence of a thing, thereby providing insight into what it is to exist. This indicates what a thing, in the most general sense, must be and a correlative account of the structure in reality. Any recognizable version of hylomorphism is incompatible with the resulting ontology, as is any hierarchical view, employing so-called building relations (such as grounding), widely accepted in contemporary discussions of metaphysics. Perhaps surprisingly, although hylomorphism and these other views are quite different—representing distinct philosophical traditions—they share untenable accounts of structure and fundamentality, and so should be rejected on the same grounds.


Leibniz on Plurality
Friday April 24, 2:40 pm, UH 237 (Dean's Conference Room)
Adam Harmer, UC Riverside

Leibniz’s answer to the question when do many things compose one thing? is startling: in no case. Leibniz denies that there is any mechanism by which to unify a collection of parts into a single thing with per se unity. In this paper, I consider Leibniz’s answer to the following, importantly related, question: when is it the case that there are many things? I suggest that for Leibniz, plurality is closely connected to being discrete, i.e. consisting of non-overlapping, independently moveable parts. I then apply this to Leibniz’s argument against material objects: since a material object is discrete, it cannot be a single thing. This result both contributes to our understanding of Leibniz’s rejection of the Cartesian view of material substance and marks an important historical shift in the understanding of material structure.

Campus Lecture: Explaining the Cosmos: Can Philosophy Help?
Dean Zimmerman, Rutgers University
Thursday, November 13, 3:00 PM. SMSU 217-218.

Why is there anything at all, and why a cosmos even remotely like ours?Why is there anything at all, and why a cosmos even remotely like ours? Grand questions like these never cease to generate wonder — and, sometimes, confusion. Recently, scientists and popularizers of science have drawn our attention to wondrous discoveries about the shape of the cosmos, and suggestive new theories about the universe’s origins; while religious apologists have revived some ancient but still appealing arguments for the existence of God. But these attempts to address the big questions of “life, the universe, and everything” often gloss over subtleties that turn out to be important.

Qualia and Ordinary Objects
Dean Zimmerman, Rutgers University
Friday, November 14th, 3:00 PM. Pine Room.

Many philosophers have been attracted to a view one might call “property dualism” about certain aspects of conscious mental states: the view that there is a family of perfectly natural properties (“the qualia”) in virtue of which experiences are phenomenally similar or different, and that these are determinates falling under the same determinables as the properties we imagine to be permuted in inverted spectrum cases, to be absent in philosophical zombies, etc. Fewer philosophers, at least these days, are attracted to a dualism of mental and physical substances. But, because of the vagueness of all the ordinary material objects that are good candidates for being the subjects of conscious experience, the combination of property dualism and substance materialism is harder to maintain than one might have thought.

The Quantum Measurement Problem and Wigner’s Solution
Jeffrey Barrett, University of California-Irvine
April 25, 2014

Abstract: The quantum measurement problem is perhaps the most difficult conceptual problem in the foundations of physics. Attempts to solve it have even led physicists and philosophers to speculate concerning the proper relationship between the mental states of observers and the physical states of the systems they observe. The physicist Eugene Wigner, for example, believed that a consistent formulation of quantum mechanics requires one to endorse a strong variety of mind-body dualism. We will consider Wigner's argument and what it tells us about the nature of the measurement problem more generally.

James Van Cleve, USC
January 31, 2014

Reid holds that one of the distinguishing marks of conception is that “it is not employed solely about things which have existence.  I can conceive a winged horse or a centaur, as easily and as distinctly as I can conceive a man whom I have seen.” The first task of my paper is to determine whether Reid’s views on nonexistent objects of conception make him (as some have conjectured) a Meinongian before Meinong.  My answer is yes.

Reid is famous for espousing direct realism—the view that we perceive objects in the external world directly, not by the mediation of sense data or ideas.  One of the chief objections to direct realism is that we need to posit ideas or sense data to account for illusions and hallucinations, and that once ideas are admitted, they take over, becoming the immediate objects of veridical perception as well.  The second task of my paper is to determine whether Reid’s Meinongianism may be enlisted in defense of his direct realism.  My answer is yes—but it is not his best defense.


Does Membership Supervene on Predication?

Sean Walsh (Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science, UCI).
October 25 2013

Abstract: in the recent literature in the philosophy of mathematics, one finds a resurgence of interest in the naïve conception of set. Some of this work is directly concerned with consistent renditions of Frege’s Grundgesetze, while others take their lead from the modalization of the iterative conception due to Parsons and Reinhardt, and still others work within the framework of non-classical logic. Part of the challenge in evaluating what is philosophically gained or lost by adopting these various approaches is the sheer diversity of logical frameworks in which they are pursued. The primary aim of this talk is to gauge the extent to which these various approaches retain the leading idea that membership facts are determined by predication facts. A secondary aim of this talk is to delineate certain presuppositions that appear to give this leading idea high prior plausibility.