The Philosophy Department End-of-the-Year Potluck
Party will be held on Saturday, June 12, at 5:30 pm.
All Philosophy graduates, majors, faculty, significant others, and family are invited. More detailed information should be available soon. You can contact the Philosophy Department at (909) 537-5869.
On Friday, November 20, 2009, Felipe Leon, one of our talented part-timers, delivered a lecture titled "Modal Epistemology: Curb Your Enthusiasm. The following is an abstract of the paper:
In this paper, Dr. Leon argues for a mitigated form of modal skepticism: we have knowledge of relatively humdrum metaphysical possibilities (e.g. that my daughter's ball can get stuck on my roof, that my car can be painted pink, etc.), but we lack knowledge of metaphysical possibilities remote from ordinary experience (e.g., that my mind can exist apart from my body, that there could be an Anselmian being, etc.).
First, he offers evidence that our judgments about exotic possibilities are unreliable: when we check our judgments about exotic possibilities with respect to things that exist in our world against the backdrop of our scientific understanding of it, it turns out that a significant range of such judgments don't fare so well.
Second, Dr. Leon presents a dilemma for standard accounts of modal epistemology: either they're so permissive that they admit too many false positives, or they're so restrictive that they entail that even modestly remote modal claims (e.g., that Putnam's "twin water" is metaphysically possible) are unjustified.
Third, he sketches Peter Van Inwagen's version of mitigated modal skepticism as presented in his paper, "Modal Epistemology", and offers a criticism that undercuts it. Briefly, the problem is that while Van Inwagen draws the boundaries between justified and unjustified modal claims in plausible places, he offers no substantive account of the sources of justification for the modal claims he accepts. This leaves his form of modal skepticism open to the charge of being unprincipled and arbitrarily selective.
Finally, Dr. Leon sketches a positive account of the sources of justification for our beliefs about what's metaphysically possible. The most salient source here is our folk theory of how the world works, which includes a folk physics, a folk psychology, etc. He argues that the account has many virtues that make it attractive: it explains, in a natural way, our knowledge of humdrum possibilities; it explains the epistemic force of paradigm cases of successful modal thought experiments (e.g., Gettier's thought experiments); it explains common disagreement with respect to claims about exotic possibilities; and it avoids the problems that plague Van Inwagen's account. An (perhaps) unfortunate implication of the paper's conclusions is that the range of legitimate modal thought experiments is much more restricted than philosophers have commonly assumed.
On Friday, April 23, 2010, Peter Kung of Pomona College, and Masahiro Yamada of Claremont Graduate University, presented a paper titled "Justification Without Vindication." Profs. Kung and Yamada supplied the following abstract of the paper.
Bootstrapping cases show that not all justified beliefs are created equal. Many justified beliefs have the following nice property: they allow you to use that belief to justifiedly infer other beliefs.
But not all justified beliefs have this property. It will be discussed (some of) what this property consists in and examine it's role in some recent arguments.
During Winter Quarter, 2010, Jill Buroker lectured at CSU, Northridge, on the topic of "Kant and the Private Language Argument."
Beverly Gallo will be lecturer Representative to the Faculty Senate again next year.
Felipe Leon Is leaving us soon. As stated earlier, he is one of our talented part-timers. He has accepted the offer of a tenure-track position at Metropolitan Community College (Penn Valley) in Kansas City, Missouri!
Editor's Note Felipe is the tenth Lecturer to get a tenure-track job in the last nine years. Unfortunately, none were offered tenure-track positions here. In fact, I believe that only two went on to jobs in California. We train them here, but they serve students in other states.
Chris Naticchia has forthcoming, "Hobbesian Realism in International Relations: A Reappraisal," in Sharon Lloyd (ed.) Hobbes Today (Cambridge UP). Chris also lectured on the topic of "Recognition and Human Rights" during session II of the CSUSB 3rd Annual Asian Studies Symposium.
Darcy Otto is co-editor, along with Geoff Bowe, of Plato:A Prosopographical Reader, Global Scholarly Press 2010. Darcy ". . . did a rewrite of the translation of the Phaedo, wrote the scholarly introductions to the Apology and Crito, and the Introduction to the book."
Lou Reich has been reviewing books for the publishers McGraw-Hill and Wadsworth in recent years. In February, 2010 he reviewed the first edition of a new Critical Thinking text, by George Rainbolt and Sandra Dwyer, for Wadsworth/Cenage Learning.
Ten philosophy majors are graduating this year. Congratulations to Adam Alidra (double major with English), Richard Austrum (double major with History), Ted Barton (double major with English), Nadine Hanhan (double major with Economics), Ben Fry, Kevin Johnson, Alden Kiertzner, Misha Pinchuk (double major with Economics, I believe), Sarah Rudek (double major with Political Science).
Nadine Hanhan is not only graduating this year but, she is this year's College of Letters and Arts' Outstanding Undergraduate. Well done, Nadine! She will receive the award during the commencement ceremony. I asked Nadine about her plans for graduate school. She answered that she ". . .will be at Oregon State University this fall. It's an Applied Economics program, and my concentration will be in environmental economics. I'll be starting off as a master's student, but I can also pursue the PhD within a year if I complete a year of master's courses."