Archive for February 2017
I am starting a new reading group on the metaphysics of abstract artifacts. Some objects such as musical works, novels, fictional characters, computer programs do not seem to fit the traditional ontological categories of either concrete or abstract. The distinction between these two categories is usually drawn on account of whether having or lacking spatiotemporal location, or causal efficacy. I call these objects abstract artifacts. Abstract artifacts, if they exist, seem to be created by composers/authors/programmers, etc. and thus have a beginning in time, yet they seem to be abstract objects of some kind (since they lack spatial location, or they are multiply realizable and/or repeatable). However, abstract objects are presumably causally inert; they cannot push or pull things. If creation entails being caused to exist, then it seems that the abstract objects in question cannot be created. Hence, it seems we have to give up on one of the above claims about abstract artifacts. This is often referred to as the paradox of standards.
We will begin our discussion trying to answer the question how we solve this puzzle. In this reading group, we will start with a basic ontological framework in which the questions and alternative proposal are construed, and then move on to more difficult questions about the nature of abstract artifacts. Most of our discussions will focus on the ontology of works of art but we will keep in mind the possibility that whatever we say about works of art might shed some light on different kinds of abstract artifacts: linguistic entities such as letters, words, languages, computer programs and, perhaps, scientific theorems.
The reading group will be meeting on Mondays (starting from Monday, Feb 27) from 5:15 to 7 pm at JF (John Freely Hall) 507, Bogazici University South Campus. Everyone is welcome.
If you want to join our email list, please email Ozcan Karabag at email@example.com.
This reading group is organized as part of Nurbay Irmak’s BAP project “Concept Pluralism and Artifactual Theory of Language” (10321).
We will continue with our Kant reading group at Boğaziçi this semester, meeting on Wednesdays from 5.15-7pm in the new Philosophy Department Seminar Room, JF 507. (This is on the top floor of John Freely Hall) .
We will start this Wednesday (15/02/2017) by finishing reading the Doctrine of Method of the Critique of Pure Reason. Starting where we left off last semester (A832/B860). Once we have finished this we will read some secondary literature on the Critique of Pure Reason. Everyone is welcome.
If you would like to be added to our mailing list, please email Melisa at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The reading group is jointly organised by Lucas Thorpe and Ken Westphal. This reading group is part of the joint Boğaziçi -Southampton Newton-Katip Çelebi project AF140071 “Agency and Autonomy: Kant and the Normative Foundations of Republican Self-Government” run by Lucas Thorpe (Boğaziçi) and Sasha Mudd (Southampton) and Lucas Thorpe’s Bogazici University BAP project 9320
We will continue with our cog-sci/philosophy reading group at Boğaziçi this semester, meeting on Tuesdays from 5.15-7pm in the new Philosophy Department Seminar Room, JF 507. (This is on the top floor of John Freely Hall) .
We will start this Tuesday (14/02/2017) by reading:
Mark Steedman, “Plans, Affordances and Combinatory Grammar“, Linguistics and Philosophy, December 2002, Volume 25, Issue 5, pp 723–753.
If you would like to be added to our mailing list, please email Duygu at: email@example.com
Support for this reading group is provided by Lucas Thorpe’s TÜBİTAK project “Concepts and Beliefs: From Perception to Action” ( 114K348).
Talk at Boğaziçi: Frank Zenker (Lund) on ‘Using conceptual spaces to exhibit conceptual continuity through scientific theory change’(Thursday, 16/02/2017)
Frank Zenker (Lund) will speak on ‘Using conceptual spaces to exhibit conceptual continuity through scientific theory change’. Thursday, 16 Feb. (2107), 5–7pm
in (new!) Boğaziçi University, Philosophy Department Seminar Room JF 507
Talk at Boğaziçi: Cansu Canca (Hong Kong) on “What Should Kant Have Said? A Kantian Argument against the Prohibition of a Kidney Market” (Friday, 10/02/2017)
Cansu Canca (Department of Philosophy – School of Humanities Medical Ethics and Humanities Unit – Faculty of Medicine University of Hong Kong) will speak on ‘What Should Kant Have Said? A Kantian Argument against the Prohibition of a Kidney Market’ Friday, 10 Feb. 5–7pm in room JF 507–508. Everyone welcome.
“The Occasionalist Theory of Causation in Early Modern Britain: From Agent-Causation to Mere Regularities”
Date: Friday 10 February, 2017
Abstract: Malebranche’s influence on the British philosophy was significant both when one considers how the intellectual landscape appeared to the philosophers and to the learned audience of the time and also from the point of view of the contemporary understanding of the development of British philosophy during the early modern period. A clear sign of his influence on his contemporaries and successors on the other side of channel, besides the enormous popularity of the now widely forgotten John Norris, the English popularizer of Malebranche, is the fact that Research was translated into English twice in the late 17th century almost simultaneously, by Richard Sault and by Thomas Taylor. This might seem surprising if we are to believe the standard textbook version of occasionalism, namely that God is the only genuine causally active agent in the world and all instances within the sensible world which appear to us to be instances of genuine causation – be it body-body, mind-body, on mental causation – are merely occasions for God to exhibit his causal powers in the world: why would such a wildly implausible theory appear tempting to anyone, no matter how long ago they lived?
I will try to show, first, that the occasionalist theory of causation, as it was formulated by Malebranche, makes much more sense when we understand it in it’s own philosophical and scientific context. First, occasionalism was an attempt to interpret Descartes’ philosophical thought on causation and laws of nature, something that was perceived to be the most important and promising systematic presentation of the new scientific understanding of the world in terms of mechanisms. Second occasionalism aimed to provide an alternative theory of causation against the scholastic analysis of causation in terms of powers, an analysis which despite being heavily criticized, even ridiculed, in the early modern period, still provided a formidable attempt to explain causation. The seriousness of this attempt was, so I shall argue, recognized clearly by early modern British authors, most importantly by Locke and Berkeley, and shaped their own thinking on causation in a certain direction.
The influence that some of Malebranche’s negative arguments against the existence and even the possibility of real causal powers (or the knowability of real causal powers, depending on one’s favorite Hume-interpretation) had on Hume is well known and documented, but it is not equally well understood how the occasionalist theory of causation shaped the views that Hume was arguing against, most notably Locke’s and Berkeley’s. I hope to make this more apparent by showing how Malebranche’s arguments for the occasionalist theory of causation had a strong influence on British thought, leading both Locke and Berkeley to take agent causation as the paradigm case of causation, and how this new emphasis on agent causation in turn influenced Hume and helps to explain who in fact were the targets of his famous “no-necessary connections” argument. This story about the influence of the occasionalist theory of causation in early modern Britain will, I hope, be not merely of interest from a history of ideas point of view. If correct, it will help us to understand that a certain theory of causation, which is nowadays often regarded as the standard theory, namely the Humean regularity theory, is in fact an articulation of a reaction against a wide array of alternative theories, some of which possess at least as much prima facie plausibility as the Humean theory, if not more.