Archive for December 2014
Last week, our colleague Dr. Istvan Aranyosi posted a discussion focusing on a comment made by Dr. Rachel McKinnon on a thread over at Daily Nous. Dr. Aranyosi’ post was not moderated in any way by any of the administrators of this blog. Whilst we, Dr. Sandrine Berges, and Dr. Serife Tekin, the authors of the present statement, believe in the benefits of some moderating in philosophy blogs, we also think that the political climate in Turkey is such that any attempt at moderating may come across as a form of censorship – a perception that we want to avoid. Nonetheless, as two of the four co-founders and administrators of this blog, we want to disassociate ourselves from the contents of Dr. Aranyosi’s post. It by no means reflects our position.
Talk at Bogazici University, Alexander Reutlinger (Munich), “Explanation Beyond Causation – The Counterfactual Account of Non-Causal Explanations”
Monday, January 5, 5pm
Since the early 2000s, non-causal explanations have re-entered the arena of philosophy of
science. The primary goal of discussing examples of non-causal explanations has been to show
that certain scientific explanations cannot be accommodated by the received account of scientific
explanation, the causal account. Hence, the main goal has been a negative one, i.e. to undermine
the causal account. The current debate is largely silent on a more positive and constructive
approach to non-causal explanations. The challenges for a constructive approach include: (1) to
provide an account of non-causal explanations, and (2) to provide criteria for distinguishing
causal and non-causal explanations. This talk addresses both challenges. Regarding challenge
(1), I argue that non-causal explanations work by revealing non-causal counterfactual
dependencies between explanandum and explanans. Such a counterfactual account of non-causal
explanations is an extension of Woodward’s (2003) causal version of the counterfactual account.
Hence, the counterfactual account provides a unifying framework for causal and non-causal
explanations – both are explanatory because they reveal counterfactual dependencies. Causal
explanations are explanatory in revealing causal counterfactual dependencies (based on causal
generalizations) between explanandum and explanans. Non-causal explanations are explanatory
in revealing non-causal counterfactual dependencies (based on non-causal generalizations)
between explanandum and explanans. The counterfactual account will be applied to purely
statistical explanations, renormalizations group explanations, and genuinely mathematical
explanations. Regarding challenge (2), I propose to distinguish causal and non-causal
explanations on the basis of so-called Russellian criteria of causation (including criteria such as
asymmetry, time-asymmetry, the distinctness and locality of causal relata, and so on).
Daily Nous hosts a post and a discussion thread, titled Philosophers from Poverty, on the topic of class or socio-economic status as a form of disadvantage in academic philosophy. To my knowledge, the internet has not been flooded so far by discussions, projects, calls to arms, campaigns, etc. related to this form of disadvantage. For all I know, this thread might well be a first.
Naturally, when a blog post is about topic X, readers are supposed to comment about topic X. Some reader might well say: “Ok, ok, X, but please don’t forget about Y when you discuss about X”. This is OK and non-controversial when the topic X is, say, the Many-Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, and Y is the Copenhagen Interpretation. When, however, the topic is some form of social/cultural/political group disadvantage, and the corollary of discrimination and bias based on that, one needs to be a little more careful when putting forward a comment like the one above: “Ok, ok, X, but please don’t forget about Y when you discuss about X”. The reason is that people who are likely to read and comment on the thread are precisely people who likely suffer as a result of that disadvantage, and they might feel hurt or sidelined by such a comment.
Prof. Brian Schroeder (Rochester Institute of Technology):
“The Singular With the Other: Metaphysics and the Political”
Abstract: Reading Lacoue-Labarthe, Nancy, and Levinas alongside one another opens the possibility for formulating an ethical conception of politics that both preserves the asymmetrical ethical signification of absolute alterity while widening the domain for the reciprocity of sociopolitical intersubjective exchange. For all three it is a matter of thinking beyond the traditional oppositions of self/other and immanence/transcendence to advance the ontological standpoint of being radically exposed, wherein the common ground of singularity is metaphysically revealed as the proper dimension of an ethical approach to political being.
Case 216, Monday December 8th, 5:30 PM, all welcome!