Archive for October 2015
Talk at Bogazici, Stephen Snyder (Bogazici), “A Critical Hermeneutical Reading of Danto’s Narrative Philosophy of History and the Problem of Style”
Please join us,
Friday, November 6, 5-7pm, TB 130 (Anderson Hall)
Title and Abstract:
A Critical Hermeneutical Reading of Danto’s Narrative Philosophy of History and the Problem of Style
This essay explores the benefits of a critical hermeneutic reading of Arthur Danto’s aesthetic theory. In his early writings on critical hermeneutics, Jürgen Habermas credits Danto with having reconciled analytic philosophy with hermeneutics. The essay argues that Habermas’ acceptance of Danto’s narrative philosophy of history would support a critical hermeneutical reading of his aesthetic philosophy, but a problem could be encountered with Danto’s theory of style. A critical hermeneutic interpretation of Danto’s work, however, would point to a new understanding of style that would resolve a problem in his claim that art’s history entails a cognitive progression. The resolution is shown through an examination of the Sartrean roots of Danto’s account of style, a shift in Sartre’s later writings toward a hermeneutical understanding of subjective consciousness, and the benefit Danto’s theory brings, according to Habermas, to a critical hermeneutic reading of Gadamer.
14-15 November, 2015
Kriton Curi Room (in Albert Long Hall)
Papers in the analytic style (broadly understood), addressing topics that existentially matter to human experience
Saturday, 14 November
11:00 – 12:30 Paul Prescott (Syracuse University) “The Secular Problem of Evil”
The existence of evil is held to pose philosophical problems only for theists. I argue that the existence of evil gives rise to a philosophical problem which confronts theist and atheist alike. The problem is constituted by the following claims: (1) human beings must trust the world if they are to think and act within it; (2) the world is not trustworthy (i.e., sufficient evil exists). It follows that we think and act only by maintaining a state of radical self-deception. Theists resolve this problem by rejecting (2), only to confront the problem of evil as traditionally understood. Atheists also reject (2), but without grounds for doing so.
13:30 – 15:00 Workshop on NGOs and Analytic Philosophy – Invited Speaker: Itır Erhart (Bilgi University), co-founder of the charity running organization Adım Adım
“How, if at all, can the tools of analytic philosophy be put to use to understand first-person experiences of participation in civil society?” Following her talk there will be an open forum on this question.
15:30-17:00 Invited Speaker: Christina Van Dyke (Calvin College) “Blazing Darkness and Drinking with Christ: the Phenomenology of Immortality (1200-1400)”
Discussions of immortality in the Middles Ages have tended to focus on metaphysical issues such as the nature of the rational soul and the prospect for its continued existence after the death of the body. In this paper, I focus instead on the phenomenology of immortality–that is, the question of how medieval figures expected to experience unending life. Christian doctrine demands a resurrection of the body, for instance, while Platonic influences push towards the transcendence of matter (and perhaps even individuality) in merging with the Divine. This tension comes to a head in the High Middle Ages. Apophatic philosophers and contemplatives portray human immortality as static contemplation of the universal good, where any experience of the individual self is transcended. In contrast, the ‘affective’ tradition (which includes a number of female mystics) portray our experience of immortality as dynamic and active: they stress Jesus’s metaphor of heaven as a wedding feast, and they talk about living in unending community with God *and* neighbor. This tension between contemplative vs. active experience of immortality both tracks earlier debates (e.g., over Aristotle’s conception of happiness in Nicomachean Ethics book 1 vs. 10) and carries through in the Reformation, with Protestants (generally) advocating the more active and Catholics (generally) advocating the more contemplative view of the afterlife.
The 17:30-19:00 session (Sandrine Berges (Bilkent University) “From Slavery to Everyday Sexism – The Role of Self-Deception in Oppression”) is unfortunately canceled.
19:30 Dinner, followed by Keynote: Eric Schliesser (University of Amsterdam) “When becoming a parent means becoming a moral monster; with an argument against Rawls’s set up in the original position” (at BUMED Cafe)
This paper argues, first, that fatherhood, unexpectedly, generates immoral preferences. By this I do not mean, as one might expect, that (a) having a child is bad for the environment (and especially future people living in much poorer countries), although it is undeniably harmful to the environment to have children, or that (b) one favors one’s own children at the expense of other human ties (although undeniably one does do this). Rather, I focus on ordinary incidents that may occur in the process of raising a child.
Second, I use my argument to explore two important concepts in Rawlsian political philosophy: (i) a rational plan of life; (ii) Knightian uncertainty. I will argue that fatherhood is a species of Knightian uncertainty that causes trouble for Rawlsian rational plan of life.
Sunday, 15 November
The 9:00-10:30 session (Anna M.C. de Bruyckere (Durham University) “Conceptual vs Existential Work: Understanding Life and Self”) is unfortunately canceled.
11:00-12:30 Keynote: L. A. Paul (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) “Preference Capture”
I discuss two problems of preference capture arising from puzzles for decision-making under radical epistemic and personal change. The first problem of preference capture concerns the way that we might be alienated from the perspectives of who we are making ourselves into. The second problem of preference capture involves the way that we might fear that an experience could capture our preferences, making repugnant, counterfactually distant future selves closer to actuality.
13:30-15:00 Workshop on Under-studied Topics in Analytic Philosophy – Speaker and Discussant: Carrie Ichikawa Jenkins (University of British Columbia) -via Skype-
In this workshop we will have students tell us about things that matter to them existentially which they have not seen treated in the analytic literature. Prof. Ichikawa Jenkins, with other speakers of the conference will be guiding the students on how to utilize tools of analytic philosophy in those areas.
15:30-17:00 Patrizia Pedrini (University of Florence) “The Lives We Can’t Live – A Study of Self-Deception”
According to Alfred Mele’s motivationalist account (2001), self-deception is caused by the biasing working of a desire that p be the case over the cognition relevant to the formation of the belief that p. I will assess the prospect of Mele’s account vis à vis the formulation of what I call the “causal problem” of self-deception. The causal problem of self-deception is generated by an objection to early versions of Mele’s motivationalism due to Bermùdez (2000), known as the “selectivity problem” of self-deception. The objection shows that self-deception is more selective than the presence of a desire that p be the case in the psychology of a subject can predict, as there are cases of people in the grip of a desire that p be the case who do not end up self-deceptively believing that p. I will argue when a desire that p be the case biases a subjects’s cognition so as to lead him or her to self-deceptively believe that p this happens because the desire that p be the case is not causally equivalent to the desire that p be the case which operates in the subject who does not end up self-deceiving.
Rather, it is a desire that is made causally suitable to let the subject reach the self-deceptive belief by the overall psychology of a subject. The causal theory of self-deception I will outline will also help us to do justice to the psychological complexity and the existential significance of the phenomenon of self-deception in the life of the subject who experiences it.
17:30-19:00, Camil Golub (New York University) “Biographical Identity and Regret”
All of us could have had better lives, yet we often find ourselves unable to wish that our lives had gone differently, especially when we contemplate alternatives that vastly diverge from our actual life course. In this paper I ask what, if anything, accounts for such attitudes. First I examine some answers offered in the literature: (i) the lack of direct (“first-personal”) psychological connections with our merely possible selves; (ii) a general conservatism about value; (iii) the importance of our actual relationships and long-term projects. I find them all wanting. Then I develop my own proposal, inspired by R.M. Adams’ (1979) answer to the problem of evil: we cannot regret many things in our past because they contributed to who we are. Our biographical identities constrain the live options for our retrospective attitudes.
19:30 Dinner (location TBA)
BETİM seminar Stephen Snyder: Changing Human Nature – A Case for Intergenerational Justice 4 Nov. 2015
Changing Human Nature – A Case for Intergenerational Justice
Seminar by Stephen Snyder
St. Louis (MO)/İstanbul
Visiting Professor, Bosphorus University
Wed. 4 November 2015, 5.15-6.30 pm
Language of the event: English, no simultaneous translation
Click on poster to enlarge
All welcome, registration not required.
for directions see
Talk at Istanbul Technical University, Alberto L. Siani (Yeditepe University): OVERLAPPING DISAGREEMENT. For a Dissident Reading of Rawls
On a standard reading, Rawls’s central claim is that, once philosophy produces an adequate account of rationality together with certain constraints aiming at reaching “fair” conclusions, and once this account is adequately expressed through the original position device, there will be a unanimous rational agreement (in A Theory of Justice) or an overlapping consensus (in Political Liberalism) on the two principles of justice and on the whole liberal-egalitarian conception. Against this standard reading I propose a “dissident” one (section 1), whose central point is not so much whether we (can) agree or not on Rawls’s design of the original position or even on his formulation of the principles of justice, but rather that political liberalism provides the right conceptual tools to inquire into the possibility, critical and progressive character and limits of a political agreement not conceived as the unanimous result of rational argumentations by reasonable citizens. I claim that political liberalism has a radical innovative potential for political philosophy that still needs to be fully actualized, and that this potential lies in the non-philosophical conception of the elements of political agreement and disagreement, and in their philosophical explicitation for political purposes. To the aim of a fuller appropriation of this potential I work around two poles: overlapping disagreement and reconciliation.
I juxtapose to the notion of “overlapping consensus” (explicitly central in political liberalism) the notion of “overlapping disagreement” which, though not being explicitly thematized as such, is arguably equally central to the political liberalism project (section 2). By introducing this notion, my main intention is rebutting the reading according to which Rawls attempts an explanation of the consensus on the principles of justice based on a philosophical theory of rationality yielding univocal and ahistorically valid results. Against this reading, I place Rawls’s understanding of political consensus within his idea of the task of political philosophy and show that he employs a rather minimalistic and flexible version of consensus. Political liberalism gives up once and for all the idea that philosophy or rationality are capable of establishing consensus even among reasonable individuals, let alone among unreasonable ones. On the contrary, political liberalism aims at showing that political agreement, if possible at all, has to be achieved on the basis of given political ideas, which constitute the groundwork of the philosophical construction, but are not themselves philosophically deduced. In other terms, political liberalism delimits the space of the public discussion on the political conception (section 3). Within this space, the domain of public reason, Rawls then proposes justice as fairness as the most reasonable candidate for a political conception, whereas it is fundamental to stress that he never claims that justice as fairness is the univocal philosophical answer to the task delineated by political liberalism, nor, for that matter, that there is such a univocal philosophical answer. In fact, within public reason overlapping disagreement persists even at the level of the definition of the contents of the political conception. The task of political liberalism and that of justice as fairness are hence to be kept well distinct, something I emphasize even against Rawls’s own duct of argumentation.
I then argue that both tasks constitute the two steps of a project of philosophical reconciliation, a project whose centrality emerges in the Rawlsian works especially after Political Liberalism (section 4). Finally, I discuss the limits of reconciliation through philosophy in order to consolidate the thesis that overlapping disagreement can never be fully dissolved through philosophical means, and that political liberalism is, in virtue of its realistic yet not resigned understanding of the task of political philosophy, is a formidable discussion partner for the debate on justice beyond consensus (section 5).
Istanbul Technical University
20 October 2015, 1:30 pm
ITB Seminar Room
Talk at Istanbul Şehir University, Özlem Yılmaz (Sabancı Uni), Ancient Philosophy and Modern Science: Aristotle’s Four Causes and Phenotype
West Campus, Room 2008 (http://www.sehir.edu.tr/en/Pages/EventDetail.aspx?Etkinlik=1079)
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Talk at Bogazici, Patrick Roney (Koc U), “On Hannah Arendt’s ‘Banality of Evil’. Between Thoughtlessness and Sensus Communis”
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TB 130, 5-7pm
TITLE: “On Hannah Arendt’s ‘Banality of Evil’. Between Thoughtlessness and Sensus Communis.”
The aim of my presentation is to argue that Hannah Arendt develops her concept of the banality of evil through a phenomenological appropriation of Kant’s theory of judgment and of his principle of sensus communis in particular. Even though Arendt initially defined the banality of evil as a form of thoughtlessness grounded upon her understanding of thinking as an inner dialogue of the ‘two-in-one’, I will attempt to show that she develops the concept much more extensively in relation to Kant’s doctrine of reflective judgment and the possibility of a sensus communis as a pre-conceptual model of unforced consensus for the public space. In contrast with interpretations of Arendt’s conception from the point of view of political philosophy—with a view, that is, to the question of rationally grounded norms for political action—I claim that Arendt seeks to ground political judgment on aesthetic judgment, and that the latter forms a necessary condition for the former, particularly in the era of modernity. I will thus show the ways in which her reading of Kant is carried out together with both an existential-ontological re-appraisal of appearances and its relation to the transcendental imagination.
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October 16, Friday
Title and Abstract:
All God Had to Choose
There is a theological creationist metaphor that some theorists of supervenience physicalism like to put forward in order to illustrate what the thesis is supposed to exactly mean. To think that supervenience physicalism is true is to think that once God created all microphysical facts about our world, there was nothing left for Him to do—He was done creating the world per se. I would like to put forward an alternative theological metaphor as a better heuristic for the formulation and understanding of physicalism. Instead of focusing on what God had to do, we should better focus, I will argue, on what God had to choose in order to make our world the actual one. This new approach is based on the once popular Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR). If I am right, this device is more useful than the creationist one, and it has some interesting implications for the formulation of physicalism.