Speaker: Dr Geoff Bowe (Thompson River University, British Columbia)
Paper: Plato, Aristotle and Plotinus on Recollection
This paper begins by highlighting problems of plausibility with the theory of recollection as presented in Plato’s Meno. The absence of the theory of recollection in Plato’s Republic ought to raise some eyebrows. A better alternative to Socrates’ employment of the theory of recollection is offered based on Plato’s Republic and Plotinus’ exegetical accounts of Platonic psychology and epistemology at various points in the Enneads. I offer evidence from Plato, Aristotle and Plotinus that the theory of recollection, like so much analogical thinking in Plato is aimed at a lower level audience, and that Plato’s real epistemology is much richer and more coherent than the theory of recollection, despite its charms.
Speaker: Robin Jeshion
Title: The Significance of Names
As a class of terms, proper names are socially, cognitively, developmentally, and probably rationally, associated with significance. I will argue that in communication, proper names function as “abstract linguistic faces” of significance. Names are not just devices of direct reference affording common, stable ways of thinking and speaking about entities; and their associated mental names are not merely singular mental representations for long-term use. Proper names and their associated mental representations are, additionally, and by their nature, markers of significance. I’ll discuss how these ideas impinge upon and are supported by theories of singular thought and of the communicative transfer of singular thought.
Speaker: Tom Crisp, Biola University
Title: Speaking Loosley about the Past
Presentists say: only present things exist. But it’s hard to square
their view with ordinary talk about the past, shot through as it is with
talk that, on its face, carries ontological commitment to the wholly
past (where a thing is “wholly past” iff it did exist but does no
longer). We say things like: Bucephalus died after the battle of
Hydaspes. Such claims would seem to be true, and true only if our most inclusive domain of quantification includes wholly past entities. What’s the presentist to do? I consider and reject various presentist-friendly ways of treating such talk. Then I develop an account of what it is to speak “loosely” about a subject matter and argue that talk about the past is plausibly construed as loose talk whose truth-conditions are perfectly compatible with presentism.
Talk: Agent causalism in a causally closed physical world
Speaker: Michael Nelson (UCR)
Agent causalism is the thesis that there are fundamental, irreducible causal relations between agents and events and that such causal relations are essential to the production of fully free human action. I show how this thesis is compatible with the causal closure of the physical universe, according to which every physical event—free bodily movements included—has a physical cause. I also show how the thesis is compatible with the thesis that physical causes necessitate the occurrence of their effects.
Talk: The Essential Proposition: Frege on Identity Statements
Speaker: Robert May (University of California, Davis and Irvine)
There is a certain standard myth about Frege’s interest in identity statements; it is that Frege’s interest in such propositions was part of the justification of a philosophical theory of meaning; answering why “Hesperus is Phosphorus” and “Hesperus is Hesperus” don’t mean the same thing led Frege to posit a substantive account of the meaning of expressions – the doctrine of sense and reference – and it is this doctrine that constitutes Frege’s enduring contribution. There is of course more than a grain of truth to this, but at heart it is misleading as to Frege’s real interest in identity statements; namely the essential role they play is establishing a fundamental tenet of logicism, that numbers are ‘self-subsistent’ logical objects.
For Frege, the puzzle of identity statements called for solution just in order to maintain this result. In this paper, I will explore how this plays out in the development of Frege’s views on identity statements, proposing that his evolution from a metalinguistic to an objectual account tracks a change of emphasis from logico-linguistic considerations in his earliest work to mathematical ones in his later thought. In doing so, I will explore the answers to the following questions, among others: Why did Frege initially adopt a metalinguistic view? What caused him to change his view to one in which identity statements express objectual identity? What role do identity statements play in the logicist program? What is the significance of the puzzle, and what is its origin? And How does “On Sense and Reference” fit into Frege’s oeuvre?