Hesperus is Bosphorus

A group blog by philosophers in and from Turkey

Archive for February 2012

Philosophy Seminar at Istanbul Technical University, 6th March

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Turning the Tables on Truth: An Objection to Williamson’s Proof of Necessary Existence
Aviv Hoffmann (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

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Written by Barry Stocker

February 29, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Posted in Events in Turkey, Logic

Gender and Philosophy (in Turkey)

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I’ve been involved in discussion of the latest Hendricks scandal at the NewAPPS blog. (For those who have not followed this, information and discussion can be found here, here, here, here and here). And so I’ve been thinking a bit about gender and the profession. In the USA and UK there seems to be a quite significant gender imbalance in academic philosophy. So, for example, in many philosophy departments it seems that only between 20-30% of graduate applications for philosophy are from women. (See here. Other interesting discussions and data can be found here, here and here).

Based on personal experience of having taught in two philosophy departments here in  Turkey, however,  there does not seem to be the same gender imbalance in philosophy here in Turkey as in the US and UK. My experience of teaching here is that the majority of philosophy students are female. Here are the statistics for current philosophy students and faculty at Bogazici.

Undergrad: women 91, men 55.
Grad (MA and Phd): women 30, men 29.
Faculty: Women 6, men 8.

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Written by Lucas Thorpe

February 27, 2012 at 4:50 pm

A new twist on Zeno’s Arrow Paradox

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Zeno of Elea’s arrow paradox, like some of his other extant paradoxes, aims to show that our observations of change and becoming in the world are illusions. Our senses suggest that there are all kinds of change and motion of things around us, but our reason concludes otherwise. As good philosophers, we should listen to the voice of our reason, rather than the evidence of our senses, and reject the reality of motion and change in the world.

Here’s how the Arrow Paradox is supposed to help show the unreality of motion. (What follows is a common reconstruction of Zeno’s argument.) Consider an object like an arrow which our visual experience describes as moving in its trajectory in the air. Zeno claims that at every instant of its supposed flight, the arrow occupies a region of space exactly coinciding the size and shape of the arrow. But if an object occupies a region of space coinciding with the size and shape of the object, then the object must be at rest. The arrow at every instant during its supposed flight, therefore, is at rest; it is at no moment in that time interval in motion. So, contrary to the judgment of our senses, motion is impossible.

A popular solution to Zeno’s Arrow Paradox is Russell’s “at-at theory of motion.” According to Russell, an object cannot be in motion (nor can it be at rest) at an instant. To be in motion is to be at different locations at different times. (And to be at rest during an interval of time is to occupy the same location at every instant of that time interval.) Location of an object at a single instant does not tell us anything about its kinematic status.

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Written by Erdinç Sayan

February 25, 2012 at 12:36 am

Posted in Metaphysics

Psychiatry: Far From the Madding Grief?

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The Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is the official classification manual developed for use in clinical, educational, and research settings; it is published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and is regularly revised. The fifth edition (DSM-5) is expected to appear in May 2013. In the DSM’s current edition (DSM-IV), feelings of sadness and associated symptoms (e.g., insomnia, poor appetite, and weight loss), following the death of a loved one are excluded from the criteria for a Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), but a cautionary clause states that if these symptoms continue beyond two months and impair the individual’s psychological, social and occupational functioning, she may be given an MDD diagnosis.

The DSM-5 Working Group for the Mood Disorders has recently proposed the removal of the bereavement exclusion from the diagnostic criteria for a Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), arguing that the available evidence does not support distinguishing bereavement from other stressors that underlie MDD.

This proposal has led to a controversial debate on the advantages and disadvantages of distinguishing between the cases that involve individuals who develop major depression in response to bereavement and those who develop depression following other severe stressors. For instance, Allen Frances, the lead editor of DSM-IV, is concerned that removing the bereavement exclusion will result in over-diagnosing and over-treating non-pathological grief by labelling it MDD.

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Written by Serife Tekin

February 22, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Common Sense and Seduction by Grammar.

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In the Genealogy of Morals Nietzsche suggests that because, grammatically, every verb requires a subject we naturally think that every deed requires a doer. This natural belief he argues is a result of being seduced by grammar; we confuse the need for a grammatical subject with the existence of a real subject. Nietzsche’s argument here is reminiscent of Kant’s argument in the Paralogisms of Pure Reason that rational psychology is the result of confusing the need for a logical subject of thought with the intuition of a real subject. Similarly, in “On Denoting” Russell argues that philosophers need to look beyond the surface grammatical structure of natural language to discover the underlying logical structure. In my previous post (here), I suggested that many contemporary philosophers have been seduced by a contingent feature of the grammar of Indo-European languages.

My argument might suggest that I am sceptical of appeals to the way natural languages work in philosophy. Unlike, Nietzsche, however I am not, in general, a sceptic about appeals to natural language in philosophy. Like Thomas Reid I I am sympathetic to the view that we can use certain features of natural language as defeasible evidence for (or against) philosophical positions. Although Reid is often seen as a forerunner of ordinary language philosophy I think that it is more plausible to describe him as a “universal language philosopher”, for what has philosophical significance for Reid is the agreement of all languages on a certain point, not the contingent features of a particular language.

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Written by Lucas Thorpe

February 22, 2012 at 4:50 pm

Hartry Field at Boğaziçi

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Hartry Field (NYU) will be visiting Istanbul next week and will give a paper on Monday February 27th at Boğaziçi on “Naive Truth and Restricted Quantification”. The talk will take place from 5-7pm in M1171.

We have a weekly reading group that meets in Boğaziçi on Thursdays from 5-7pm in TB365. For the first half of this semester we will looking at semantic paradoxes. This week we are reading Hartry Field’s “The Semantic Paradoxes and the Paradoxes of Vagueness

At the start of April (April 5th and 6th) Graham Priest and Stephen Read will be running a two day workshop on Semantic Paradoxes at Boğaziçi. So in March we will be looking at a number of their papers in the reading group. If you would like to join the group, please email me at: lthorpe@gmail.com.

Written by Lucas Thorpe

February 19, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Posted in Events in Turkey, Logic

On the steps of Ancient Philosophers in Turkey: Diogenes of Sinope.

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Not much is known about this Diogenes, if only because, although he seems to have written some texts, including letters, none have survived. The other Diogenes (Laertius, the Perez Hilton of the ancient world) tells us that he was originally from Sinop, on the Black Sea. His dad minted coins. Diogenes helped him deface them, or he did it all by himself, or someone else did it and they were framed. Diogenes exiled himself to Athens, his father ended up in jailed and died there. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Sandrine Berges

February 18, 2012 at 8:46 pm

Knowledge is not a Propositional Attitude (at least, not in Turkish)

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I’m writing a paper at the moment arguing that knowledge does not entail belief.  Part of my argument is that knowing is not a propositional attitude, whereas believing is. I think there is a clear ontological distinction between facts and propositions and that what can be known are facts (and perhaps also states of affairs, and  Objects) whereas the objects of belief are propositions. The essential difference between facts and propositions is that facts are not truth apt, whereas propositions are. Amongst philosophers today the claim that knowing is not a propositional attitude is extremely idiosyncratic, however  historically something similar to the position I defend was probably the view of the majority of philosophers. In a later post I’ll give some evidence to back up this historical claim. In this post I want to point out that what I believe to be one of the strongest motivations for the claim that knowing is a propositional attitude is based on a contingent feature of English (and other Indo-European languages).

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Written by Lucas Thorpe

February 18, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Summer School on Political Philosophy at Bogazici

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Together with Kansas State University we’re organising an intensive summer school on political philosophy at Bogazici University. It will take place from July 9th to July 2oth 2012, and is aimed at grad students, advanced undergraduate students and junior faculty. The topic will be Liberalism, Libertarianism and Democracy: Theory and Practice.

The main teachers will be: Sam Freeman, Erin Kelly, David Schmitz and Peter Niesen.

Details can be found here.

Written by Lucas Thorpe

February 15, 2012 at 9:41 pm

Conference on the Ideal and Ideals in Kant at Bogazici (May 23rd-26th, 2012)

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I’m organising a conference on Ideals and the Ideal in Kant that will take place from May 23rd – May 26th at Bogazici University.

The Keynote speakers will be: Paul Guyer, Jens Timmermann and Ken Westphal.

Details can be found here.

Written by Lucas Thorpe

February 15, 2012 at 9:31 pm

Posted in Events in Turkey, Kant

Anglophone philosophy in Turkey

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Here’s some information and links about Anglophone philosophy in Turkey. I will add a bit more information about my department in the comments section below, and philosophers from other departments should feel free to add information about their departments as well. If there are any departments that you think I should include, but have not, send me an email and I’ll add a link.

There are now (as far as I know) seven English language philosophy departments inTurkey:

(1) Boğaziçi University

(2) Middle East Technical University 

(3) Bilkent University 

(4) Yeditepe University

(5) Koç University

(6) Fatih University

(7) Bahçeşehir University

There is also an MA programme in Philosophy and Social Thought at:

(8) Bilgi University

There are also plans for new departments at:

(9) Istanbul Technical University

(10) Istanbul Şehir University

In addition there are a number of philosophers (working mainly on political philosophy and philosophy of science) at Sabanci University.

There are many philosophers working in English at various Turkish language philosophy departments, for example, at Muğla University.

There is also a Francophone department at Galatasaray University.

Written by Lucas Thorpe

February 15, 2012 at 8:23 pm