Hesperus is Bosphorus

A group blog by philosophers in and from Turkey

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Talk by Kamuran Osmanoğlu at Bilkent

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“Against Phylogenetic Conceptions of Race”

By Kamuran Osmanoglu (Kansas, Philosophy)

Date: Tuesday May 22, 2018

Time: 1540-1700

Place: H-232



Abstract: Biological racial realism (BRR) continues to be a much-discussed topic, with several recent papers presenting arguments for the plausibility of some type of “biological race.” In this paper, the focus will be on the phylogenetic conceptions of race, which is one of the most promising views of BRR, that define races as lineages of reproductively isolated breeding populations. However, I will argue that phylogenetic conceptions of race fail to prove that races are biologically real. I will develop and defend my argument against the phylogenetic views of race by relying on current research in population genetics, human evolution, and social sciences. Ultimately, I will argue that (i) race is not a biologically legitimate category and (ii) philosophers should direct their resources to understand problems that arise due to racialization, and thereby they should find solutions to those problems.


Written by Sandrine Berges

May 16, 2018 at 7:16 pm

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Talk at Bilkent: Alan Coffee and Sandrine Bergès

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“Cocks on Dunghills – Wollstonecraft and Gouges on the Women’s Revolution”

By Alan Coffee (KCL, Philosophy) & Sandrine Berges (Bilkent, Philosophy)

Date: Thursday 26 April, 2018

Time: 1540-1715

Place: H-232

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Abstract: In her Historical and Moral View of the French Revolution,Wollstonecraft presents a view of the course of the events that lead to the Terror as the inevitable outcome of first inequality and then the oppression and prejudice that invariably followed. While she regards the revolution as justified she is conflicted about the course it must take. In principle a gradual revolution is needed because people have time to adjust themselves, internalising new principles, shedding old prejudices and adopting new virtues. But such a revolution can never happen because the elites who got the country into this mess are both intellectually and morally incapable of giving up their privilege, even when this eventually goes against their interest. In the end, the chaos becomes unstoppable and in the power vacuum it is small-minded petty self-interested individuals who are the chief obstacle to progress and peace. These are the cocks on their dunghills. An interesting parallel that emerges from reading Wollstonecraft’s history is the light that it sheds on the other revolution that she writes about – the women’s revolution.

A Revolution in manners requires a close look at the place women actually occupy in society, that we which they are said to occupy, and that which they could and should occupy given the right reforms. This is why Olympe de Gouges, philosopher of the French Revolution, looked at women’s place in society at three levels, natural, social and political. When Wollstonecraft says that there must be a revolution in female manners, she means, of course, not only that women should stop acting like precious imbeciles, but that men should stop treating them as such. What Gouges is doing in her early political writings, is to show that women are already manifesting the sort of virtues and behaviour that the republic needs, but that these virtues and behaviour are obscured both by the representation (or non-representation) or women’s role in primitive society and contemporary culture, and by the tendency of newly freed men to turn into petty tyrants.

Written by Sandrine Berges

April 24, 2018 at 8:05 am

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Talk by Tufan Kıymaz at Bilkent 20 April

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Tufan Kıymaz (Bilkent, Philosophy)

“Aphantasia and the Philosophy of a Blind Mind

Date: Friday, 20th April, 2018

Time: 1240 – 1330

Place: A-130

Organized by the Mind, Brain and Behavior Research Group at Bilkent University.


Abstract: Aphantasia is the inability to form mental images; it is the lack of a mind’s eye, so to speak. Even though first reported by Francis Galton in the late 19th century, scientific studies specifically focused on aphantasia are published mostly, almost exclusively, in the last decade. In this talk, I will argue that  the results of recent scientific research on aphantasia have significant implications on some of the most central issues in the contemporary philosophy of mind. I will focus on two issues: first, the nature of our first-personal knowledge of subjective experiences, especially the cognitive abilities associated with (or constitute) such knowledge and the kind of concepts that we use when we think about our own experiences, and secondly, the epistemology of possibility and necessity in the context of the conceivability arguments against physicalism.

About the Speaker: Tufan Kıymaz received his PhD in Philosophy, with a minor in History and Philosophy of Science, from Indiana University, Bloomington, in 2017. The same year he joined the philosophy department in Bilkent, from where he has received his Bachelor’s degree. His main area of research is philosophy of mind, more specifically our first-personal knowledge of subjective qualities like what it is like to see red or what it is like to be in pain, and the possibility of a fully materialistic and scientific explanation of this type of knowledge. He is also interested in metaphysical questions as to the nature of the physical, especially since one of the most central questions of philosophy of mind is whether our minds are completely physical or not.

Written by Sandrine Berges

April 16, 2018 at 2:43 pm

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MA in Philosophy at Bilkent (with Stipend)

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We are now accepting applications for the M.A. in Philosophy (for those starting the degree in Fall 2018).

Successful applicants will be eligible to receive a comprehensive scholarship (tuition waiver, accommodation and stipend).

Up to five successful applicants will have the opportunity to spend a semester at the School of Philosophy at Australian National University.

The philosophy department at Bilkent is ranked #1 in Turkey for research. Our research focuses on central areas of analytic philosophy: metaphysics and philosophy of mind, and social and political philosophy. We also have strengths in the history of philosophy.

Applicants from all disciplines are encouraged to apply. We also welcome applications from international students. The language of instruction for all courses is English.

Admission requirements and online application can be found here.

Deadlines for Fall 2018 applicants:-
Application deadline: 18 May 2018 (at 5.30pm local time)
Written exam: 24 May 2018*
Interview: 25 May 2018*

* International students may take the written exam remotely and complete the interview via skype. A similar arrangement may be possible for Turkish students who are not based in Ankara.

MA 2018 Poster

Written by Sandrine Berges

April 16, 2018 at 2:37 pm

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2nd Bilkent Undergraduate Students Philosophy Conference

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Saturday, April 14, 2018, at Bilkent University, Main Campus, Room: H-232.

Conference poster: click here.



9:55 – 10:00: Opening Address by Simon Wigley (Department Chair, Bilkent University, Philosophy)

10:00 – 10:45: “What Does Natural Selecion Select?”, Taylan Nogay (Ege University, Philosophy)

Commentator: Gizem Özen (METU, Cognitive Science)

10:55 – 11:40: “Can inequality of resources be justified?” A Critique of John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice, Ece Uçar (Bilkent University, International Relations)

Commentator: Utku Uçkun (Bilkent University, Computer Science)

11:50 – 12:35: “On the prospects of a Quinean ontology of events”, Anıl Sezgin ( Boğaziçi University, Philosophy)

Commentator: Bensu Arıcan (Bilkent University, Philosophy)


12:35- 14:00: Lunch at Kıraç/Speed


14:00 – 14:45: “Can a brain scan tell what’s in your mind?”, Kardelen Küçük (METU, Philosophy)

Commentator: Alican Başdemir (Bilkent University, Philosophy)

14:55 – 15:40: “Solution to Al-Ghazali’s Perplexity in the incoherence of the philosophers with quantum mechanics” Reyihanguli Alimujiang (Bilkent University, Psychology)

Commentator: Tufan Kıymaz (Bilkent University, Philosophy)

15:50 – 16:35: “On Katherine Hawley’s response to Della Rocca’s 20-sphere case”, Abdülhamit Gülhan, (Boğaziçi University, Philosophy)

Commentator: Saniye Vatansever (Bilkent University, Philosophy)


16:35-16:40: Closing remarks, Sandrine Berges (Bilkent, Philosophy)


Contact: philstudentconf[at]bilkent[dot]edu[dot]tr

Bilkent Students Philosophy Conference Organizing Committee.

Written by Sandrine Berges

April 10, 2018 at 9:21 am

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Conference at Bilkent: New Directions in Social Cognition Research

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Social Cognition is an expanding field of study that has come to include researchers from Philosophy, Psychology, Neuroscience, and Robotics. Social Cognition is focused on describing and explaining how human, non-human, and artificial systems understand sociality. Theoretical debates in philosophy consider issues of origins and ontology, in psychology, qualitative and quantitative methods are used to establish developmental, cross-cultural, and comparative patterns in different sorts of social performances, while neuroscience considers any neurologically relevant contribution to such abilities. Finally, roboticists have begun to explore how to create social agents capable of robust forms of human interaction. This interdisciplinary conference will explore some of the new ideas in the study of social cognition.


Dates: April 7-8, 2018

Place: Bilkent University, Main Campus, FBB building.

Mandatory Registration: Attendance is free for all graduate students, post-docs, independent researchers and faculty, but registration is required. Click here to register for the conference.

Host departments: Philosophy, Psychology, Neuroscience, Bilkent University

Organizers: Jedediah WP Allen, Hande Ilgaz, Nazim Keven (Mind, Brain and Behavior Research Group, Bilkent)

Contact Email: socialcognition[at]bilkent[dot]edu[dot]tr

Conference website: click here

Conference program: click here

Conference poster: click here


Keynote speakers:

DANIEL J. POVINELLI is Professor of Biology at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.His primary interests have centered on the characterization of higher-order cognitive functions in great apes and humans. He is the recipient of a National Science Presidential Young Investigator Award, the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Award for an Early Career Contribution to Psychology, and a one million dollar James S. McDonnell Foundation Centennial Fellow prize. He is the author of 3 books and over 130 scientific papers. His research has been featured on numerous news outlets including CBS News, ABC News, Public Radio International, BBC TV and radio, PBS, as well as in several documentaries, including Martin Scorese’s Surviving Progress, Morgan Freeman’s Through the Wormhole, Alan Alda’s The Human Spark, National Geographic’s Human Ape and Animal Minds, BBC/Nature’s The Monkey in the Mirror, and Dutch Public Broadcast, And Apes Became Men. He continues to conduct research and publish in areas related to animal cognition, Autistic Spectrum Disorders, and the philosophy of agency.

JOSEF PERNER received his PhD in Psychology from the University of Toronto. He was Professor in Experimental Psychology at the University of Sussex and is now Professor of Psychology and member of the Centre for Neurocognitive Research at the University of Salzburg. He is author of “Understanding the Representational Mind” (MIT Press, 1991) and over 180 articles on cognitive development (theory of mind, executive control, episodic memory, logical reasoning), consciousness (perception versus action), simulation in decision making, and theoretical issues of mental representation and consciousness. He served as President of the European Society for Philosophy and Psychology, is a Fellow of the British Academy, the Academia Europaea, the Leopoldina, the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, the Association for Psychological Sciences, holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Basel, and was awarded the William Thierry Preyer Award for Excellence in Research on Human Development by the European Society of Developmental Psychology (ESDP) and the Bielefelder Wissenschaftspreis for the interdisciplinary nature of his research.

Written by Sandrine Berges

March 21, 2018 at 8:41 pm

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Emily Thomas at Bilkent – 16 March

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“The Metaphysics of May Sinclair”

By Emily Thomas (Durham, Philosophy)

Date: Friday 16 March, 2018

Time: 1040-1230

Place: H-232


Abstract: May Sinclair (1863 – 1946) is best known as a novelist, and her fiction is well studied by literature scholars. It is less well known that Sinclair was a philosopher, and there are no studies of her philosophical work. This paper will address that neglect, providing the first study of Sinclair’s philosophy. I’ll dig out her metaphysical system, and show how she argues for it. Sinclair defended a version of British idealism, at a time when British idealism was slowly dying. Impressed by the ‘new realism’, advocated by philosophers such as Russell, C. D. Broad and Samuel Alexander, Sinclair argues that idealism can only survive if it takes on elements of realism. Of the contributions made to philosophy by realism, Sinclair argues the most important is their appreciation for space and time.




Written by Sandrine Berges

March 9, 2018 at 8:45 pm

Posted in Uncategorized