Hesperus is Bosphorus

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Conference at Bogazici University: Analytical Existentialism

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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)

Written by Irem Kurtsal Steen

October 28, 2015 at 7:16 pm

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METAPHYSICSTANBUL14, a one-day workshop at Bogazici University, August 4

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A One-Day Workshop

Aug. 4


Ibrahim Bodur Auditorium,

Natuk Birkan Building



İrem Kurtsal Steen, Boğaziçi University

“Persons in Plenitudinous Endurantism”



Mark Steen, Boğaziçi University

“The Special Composition Question and Video Games”



Lunch Break


Nurbay Irmak, Boğaziçi University

“Could Ontologese Save Ontology?



Coffee Break


Claudio Calosi, University of Urbino

”The Equivalence of Composition is Identity and Mereological Nihilism”



Coffee Break


Peter van Inwagen, The John Cardinal O’Hara Professor of Philosophy, University of Notre Dame

“The Problem of Fr** W*ll” *



*No typos here. Prof. van Inwagen will explain the title’s significance!

For information: kurtsal.steen@gmail.com

Written by Irem Kurtsal Steen

July 17, 2014 at 11:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

One-day Workshop in Metaphysics

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Bogazici University Department of Philosophy

August 4, Monday

Guest Speaker: Peter van Inwagen

A one-day work-in-progess workshop in contemporary metaphysics
Please submit a long abstract (approximately 1000 words) suitable for blind refereeing, along with a separate page containing your identifying information to Irem Kurtsal Steen, kurtsal.steenATgmail.com by June 10. Notifications will be made by June 20. 
Papers should not exceed 40 minutes in presentation time.

Please specify if you are interested in serving as a commentator. (You may do this without submitting any abstract, too.)
Papers that explore issues that are related to the work of Peter van Inwagen will be given preference.
Unfortunately, there is no funding available for travel, for accommodation, or lunch/dinner.
Everyone is welcome to attend. (No registration required.)

The workshop will be held in Istanbul, Bogazici University campuses at Etiler. Exact location to be announced. 


Written by Irem Kurtsal Steen

May 26, 2014 at 4:37 pm

Grounding and Fundamentality in Metaphysics and in Ethics

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Conference at Bogazici University, Istanbul
10-12 October 2013

All sessions are at Demir Demirgil Room in the OFB building on South Campus, Bogazici University.

Keynote Speakers: Ruth Chang, Janice Dowell
Invited Participants: Tristram McPherson, Pekka Väyrynen

October 10 Thursday
10:00 – 12:00    Alexander Steinberg (University of Hamburg) “Holism about Moral Reasons and Universalizability”
12:00 – 13:00     Lunch     
13:00 – 15:00     Derek Baker (Lingnan University) “Why Should I—If You Can’t Explain Normativity?”
15:00 – 15:15     Coffee Break
15:15 – 17:15     Ana Laura Edelhoff (Humboldt-Universitat Zu Berlin) “Grounding in Aristotle”
19:00     Dinner

October 11 Friday
10:00 – 12:00     Jussi Suikkanen (University of Birmingham) “Ethical Theories and the Correlation Problem”
12:00 – 13:00    Lunch
13:00 – 15:00     Ralf Bader (New York University) “Two Levels of Good-Making”
15:00 – 15:15     Coffee Break
15:15 – 17:15     Tristram McPherson (Virginia Tech) TBA
17:15 – 18:00     Coffee Break
18:00 – 19:40     Keynote Speaker: Janice Dowell (Syracuse University)
20:00     Dinner

October 12 Saturday
10:00 – 12:00     Ryo Chonabayashi  “Normative Explanations and Reductive Explanation Problem”
12:00 – 13:00     Lunch     
13:00 – 15:00     Andrew Jones (St. Louis University) “Moral Supervenience, Dispositional Essentialism, and Robust Metaethical                             Realism”
15:00 – 15:15     Coffee Break
15:15 – 17:15     Pekka Väyrynen (University of Leeds) TBA
17:15 – 18:00     Coffee Break
18:00 – 19:40     Keynote Speaker: Ruth Chang (Rutgers University)
20:00     Dinner

This conference is made possible by Bogazici University Rector’s Conference and Workshop Support.
All are welcome.


Written by Irem Kurtsal Steen

September 26, 2013 at 9:52 pm

CFP: Grounding and Fundamentality in Metaphysics and in Ethics

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Conference at Bogazici University, Istanbul

10-12 October 2013

Keynote Speakers: Ruth Chang, Janice Dowell, John Hawthorne

Invited and confirmed participants: Tristram McPherson, Pekka Väyrynen, TBA

The purpose of this conference is to explore implications of recent work in metametaphysics and metaphysics on fundamentality and grounding for ethics and metaethics. The reverse, namely, whether applications of grounding or fundamentality in ethics or metaethics might cast light on fundamentality and grounding generally, is also of interest. We invite papers relevant to these questions, and especially on the following themes.

Suggested themes

The relevance of the (meta-)metaphysical concept of naturalness to metaethical questions

Are there moral kinds? How do they stand with respect to natural kinds?

How should we understand alleged priority relations between goodness/rights/virtue/reasons?

Moral properties as universals

The relationship between traditional metaethical categories (cognitivism/non-cognitivism; naturalism/non-naturalism; reduction/non-reduction) and new work on fundamentality or grounding

The relation between naturalistic moral realisms and the ontological status of the special sciences

The metaphysics of thick moral properties (e.g. courageousness)

Inferences from the semantics of deontic expressions to metaphysical conclusions

Metaphysical explanation in ethics

How are such relations as evaluative dependence, determination and good-making best understood?

Can reality have normative “joints”?

Papers should be presentable in 50 minutes. Please send a detailed abstract (600-900 words) suitable for blind review, and a separate document with personal details to fundamentalnaturalgood@gmail.com

Application deadline: 1 August 2013

Decisions will be announced by 15 August, 2013

Inquiries should be sent to kurtsal(dot)steen(at)gmail(dot)com

Irem Kurtsal Steen

Assistant Professor of Philosophy

Philosophy Department

Bogazici University

Bebek, Istanbul



Written by Irem Kurtsal Steen

June 30, 2013 at 6:58 pm

Posted in Uncategorized