Talk at Bogazici, Jonathan Cohen (UCSD), “On the Presuppositional Behavior of Coherence-Driven Pragmatic Enrichments”
Please join us for this talk.
Consider (1) and (2):
(1) Every time the company fires an employee who comes in
late, a union complaint is lodged.
(2) If the company fires an employee who comes in late, a
union complaint will be lodged.
Now suppose there is an employee, Snodgrass, who is fired because he
was discovered to have been embezzling, and that the firing occurred
on a day on which he had happened to come in late. And suppose the
union does nothing about it. In this situation, it seems that (1) and
(2) can still be true.If so, there must be an enrichment at play that affects truth
conditions: even though Snodgrass came in late and was fired, the fact
that Snodgrass wasn’t fired *because* he was late causes the
event to sit outside of the domain restriction of (1), and, likewise,
not to satisfy the antecedent of the conditional in (2). Importantly,
this enrichment has no linguistic mandate, and therefore is clearly
pragmatic. So why does it intrude upon the truth conditions of (1) and
We argue that this behavior arises as a result of the way in which the
enrichments interact with pragmatic presupposition. In particular, in
producing examples (1)-(2) with the intention to communicate the
enrichment, a speaker presupposes that a causal relation necessary to
make the inference is part of the common ground, and intends that
presupposition to restrict the interpretation of the
quantifier/antecedent in (1)/(2).
The analysis connects the associative inferences that underlie the
establishment of coherence relations between sentences in a discourse,
a class of intrasentential enrichments that result from the same
principles, and the manner in which presuppositions constrain the
interpretation of quantified expressions and conditionals.
Please join us.
Tuesday, May 24th, 3-5pm, TB 130 (Anderson Hall)
Until recently, the idea that counterfactuals — conditionals of the form “If A were the case, then C would be the case” — might simply be strict conditionals — universal modal quantifiers scoping over material conditionals — was not taken seriously. For a strict conditional says that in all worlds, if A is the case then C is the case. But this seems too demanding: it might be true that if I had gone to the party, then I would’ve had a good time; but surely there is some possible world where I go to the party and don’t have a good time, e.g. if a fire breaks out halfway through.
Please join us for a talk and a two-part workshop at Bogazici University, both by Samuel Fletcher. Details below. All are welcome.
All events take place in TB 130 (Anderson Hall).
- “The Principle of Stability” (Colloquium) How can inferences from idealized models to the phenomena they represent be justified when those models deliberately distort the phenomena? Pierre Duhem considered just this problem in part II, chapter III (“Mathematical Deduction and Physical Theory”) of The Aim and Structure of Physical Theory (1914), arguing that inferences and explanations from mathematical models of phenomena to real physical applications must also be demonstrated to be approximately correct when the (idealized) assumptions of the model are only approximately true. Despite being included in Duhem’s most influential contribution to philosophy of science, this chapter and the principle it contains is little discussed among philosophers. Yet mathematicians and physicists both contemporaneous with and subsequent to Duhem took up this challenge (if only sometimes implicitly), yielding a novel and rich mathematical theory of stability. My goals in this presentation are thus twofold: first, to trace some of the history of this principle of stability and its precursors in reference to their application in science, and second, to present a modern version of the principle, exploring some of its applications and implications, as well as comparing it to related notions that have received more attention.
- The Logic of Severe Testing (Two-part Workshop) Deborah Mayo has for many years advocated for a modified version of classical Neyman-Pearson statistical testing as the correct account of inductive inference, most famously in her monograph Error and the Growth of Experimental Knowledge (Chicago, 1996). While this approach uses probabilities, it does not assign them to hypotheses or propositions as Bayesians would. Instead, testing procedures assign “fit” and “severity” scores to hypotheses or propositions based on observed data. Those hypotheses or propositions passing a sufficiently high threshold for both receive justification for being fallibly inferred: they have been severely tested. This work is an attempt to develop a general logical framework for Mayo’s account of severe testing that is a generalization from the specific examples she gives (usually z-tests). The framework involves a two-dimensional many-valued logic–one dimension each for “fit” and “severity”–that is superintuitionistic: stronger than intuitionistic logic but weaker than classical logic. This is a welcome result, since a particular hypothesis (e.g., “this chemical causes cancer”) not being severely tested should sometimes but not in general entail that its negation is severely tested.
If you have any questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
There is a talk this coming Friday, May 13th, at 5pm, in TB 130 (Anderson Hall 130) at Bogazici University. All welcome.
“Berkeley and the Metaphysics of Substance”
After rejecting what has come to be known as the ”bundle theory” of the substance, Berkeley goes on to assert that mind is a substance. But what does Berkeley mean by substance? I will examine the Scholastic, Cartesian and Lockean legacies of thinking about the concept of being as they form the philosophical background for Berkeley’s understanding of spirit or mind as a substance. I will argue that Berkeley was well aware of the disputes and various interpretations concerning the nature of most fundamental being, substance, and critically considered and eventually rejected most of his contemporaries’ answers to the question “what is it to be a thing/being?”. The outcome of this critical evaluation is an emergence of a novel understanding of what it means to be a substance, which Berkeley hoped would avoid some of the major problems that he found the older theories to suffer from.
I will evaluate several interpretations that have been offered on Berkeley’s metaphysics of mind – most importantly mind as Cartesian thinking (perceiving) thing and mind as a propertyless Lockean substratum – and will argue that all of these interpretations face serious difficulties and were in fact explicitly rejected by Berkeley. I will discuss some of the major arguments Berkeley offered against these ways of understanding substance. Moreover, these interpretations, which try to locate Berkeleyan minds into broader metaphysical scheme, be it Cartesian or Lockean, fail to acknowledge the novelty of Berkeley’s metaphysics, namely the emphasis on the minds activity. However, this understanding of the being as fundamentally active was by no means a novelty introduced by Berkeley but has it’s root’s both in Aristotelian-Scholastic and Platonic traditions, of which Berkeley was well aware. I will end by offering an interpretation of Berkeley’s conception of mind as a substance in Siris as radicalization of the platonic themes of his earlier metaphysics of mind, which, surprisingly enough, has a strong affinity with the conception of substance offered by Spinoza.
Talk at Bogazici, Alan Coffee (King’s College London), “Catharine Macaulay and Mary Wollstonecraft on the One Fault Women of Honour May Not Commit with Impunity”
There will be a talk this Wednesday, May 4th, at 5pm at Bogazici University by philosopher Alan Coffee (King’s College London). The location is TB 130 (Anderson Hall 130). Please join us.
“Catharine Macaulay and Mary Wollstonecraft on the One Fault Women of Honour May Not Commit with Impunity”
Republican theory is often regarded as being patriarchal and hostile to women. Even in its revived, inclusive contemporary form, non-domination, feminists often ask the question, ‘can republicanism be good for women?’ And yet, not only is there a long history of women writing within this political tradition, but they have written some of its most significant and innovative work. Nevertheless, their contribution remains almost entirely unknown. From Livy, through Machiavelli and Milton, to the eighteenth century revolutionaries, the accepted canons of republican sources are exclusively male.
A great many women were writing during this revolutionary period across Europe and in America. I focus on two of the most prominent. Catharine Macaulay could plausibly claim to be the greatest of all republican writers. She was highly influential in her own time and may even have first introduced the phrase ‘the equal rights of men’. Although her monumental History of England and her Letters on Education stand as exemplary republican treatises, as rigorous and detailed as any, there are no currently widely available published editions, and she remains an obscure figure in intellectual history. Her influence on Mary Wollstonecraft was very profound. While Wollstonecraft is celebrated today for her inspiration to feminists, her achievements as a broad-ranging philosopher and political theorist in her own right have been neglected (I argue elsewhere for their continuing relevance, especially in securing equal freedom for all in diverse populations).
Taken together, Macaulay and Wollstonecraft provide a thorough, insightful and still relevant blueprint for analysing and remodelling the structural forms of domination that combine to prevent women from acting as free agents and citizens on their own terms. Legal, political and economic dependence on men play their part but their ultimate source of oppression is cultural. Wollstonecraft in particular shows how collaboratively rebuilding social values and practices with men and women both contributing must form the basis of any lasting social and political equality.
Conference at Bogazici: Aristotelian Themes in Contemporary Metaphysics, and, Kathrin Koslicki Book manuscript Workshop