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Wollstonecraft conference at Bilkent

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Feminist History of Philosophy


The contributions of Mary Wollstonecraft to contemporary issues in philosophy

1-2 June 2017 Bilkent University (Room A130)

Keynote speakers:

Sarah Hutton  (York)

Hatice Nur Erkizan (Muğla)

Full details and program  here.

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Written by Sandrine Berges

April 27, 2017 at 4:20 pm

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Undergraduate Philosophy Conference Saturday 29 April at Bilkent.

1st Bilkent Undergraduate Philosophy Conference

DATE: 29 April 2017
PLACE: Bilkent University, Main Campus, Room: A-130
Refreshments will be available between the talks.
Screen Shot 2017-04-26 at 14.09.46
Was David Hume Really an “Empiricist” Philosopher?
Ali Mert İnal, Yeditepe University
Commentator: Kerem Eroğlu
Knowing One’s Own Intentional Actions: Knowledge in Intention, and Its Implications on Knowing Other Agents and Other Minds
Emre Fatih, Koç University
Commentator: Sandy Berkovski
12.00-13.30 Lunch Break
A Skeptical Approach to “Suicide”: Suicide as a Human Right
Dilara Boğa, Bilkent University
Commentator: Deniz Ergun, Anıl Karasaç
Is a Strictly Non-Normative Epistemology Plausible?
Bartuğ Çelik, Bilkent University
Commentator: Zacharus Gudmunsen
The Ontology of Questions: A Case Study for Formal Ontology from Experimental Philosophy Perspective
Taylan Cüyaz, Aysun Şen, Murat Ertaş, METU
Commentator: Istvan Aranyosi
“What am I?” or How to Stop Worrying and Start Loving Dualism
Nazlıcan Kanmaz, Boğaziçi University
Commentator: Fatih Görücü
• Each talk will consist of a presentation of 30 minutes, followed by a commentary of 15
minutes and a Q&A session of 10 minutes.

Written by Sandrine Berges

April 26, 2017 at 11:35 am

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Two talks by Marco Fenici at Bilkent 26 and 27 April

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Marco Fenici (University of Florence)

The modularity of mindreading: philosophical and empirical concerns

Wednesday 26 April, 2017, 1100-1230 , A130


How children approach the false belief test: Social development, pragmatics, and the assembly of ToM”

Thursday, April 27th, 12:40-13:30, A130



Abstract for the first talk:

According to a widely shared view among philosophers and cognitive scientists, mindreading—i.e., the ability to attribute mental states to others to predict and explain their actions—is an intrinsic component of the human biological endowment, thus being innately specified by natural selection within particular neurocognitive structures. Despite the popularity of this view, in the talk, I will address several reasons for concern about both the modularity and innateness of mindreading.

I will first discuss some theoretical issues. In particular, I will claim that the modularity of mindreading is grounded in a conventional but simplistic view about the natural evolution of our cognitive capacities—i.e., the “modern evolutionary synthesis”—, which appears limited compared with the more contemporary ecological accounts. I will also argue that the modularity of mindreading presupposes a naturalistic account of representational content, and thereby subscribes to a particular view within a debate that is far from being settled.

I will also argue that the modularity of mindreading is all but demonstrated by the empirical findings about the development of the understanding of belief in infancy and early childhood. In particular, I will show that the data from spontaneous-response false belief tasks admit alternative non-mentalistic interpretations. Moreover, I will argue that we do not have robust evidence of continuity in the development of alleged mindreading capacities from infancy to early childhood. I will therefore conclude that mindreading is more likely a biosocial capacity, that originates from the assembly of early-emergent basic capacities of action prediction and a variegated set of late-emergent executive and linguistic abilities.
Abstract for the second talk:
I argue that children’s success in (elicited-response) false belief tests depends on the connection of their initially scattered understanding of the practical commitments associated with the verbal ascription of beliefs. Accordingly, children’s active engagement with conversation about mental states is the critical factor promoting their acquisition of the capacity to succeed in the false belief test. The proposed view accounts better than the received alternatives not only for the capacities but also the limits beyond younger children’s acquisition of the so-called Theory of Mind—i.e., psychological understanding.


Written by Sandrine Berges

April 21, 2017 at 12:34 pm

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Örsan Öymen at Bilkent 21 April.

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Örsan Öymen (Işık University)

“Hume and Causality”

Friday 21 April, 2017, 1440-1630, room G160.

billiardThe purpose of this paper is to explicate David Hume’s analysis of causality in the framework of his Epistemology and Philosophy of Religion. Hume’s theory of impressions, ideas, a priori and a posteriori reasonings, facts, existence and causality will be analyzed in relation to his objections against the cosmological and teleological arguments regarding the existence and attributes of God. The aim of the paper is to show that Hume’s analysis of causality can not be apprehended and evaluated apart from his arguments regarding religion. To avoid out of context interpretations of Hume will enable us to see that Hume’s main concern is not to challenge and discredit the principle of causality but rather to prove that the principle of causality can not be implemented in matters of religion and theology.

Written by Sandrine Berges

April 14, 2017 at 3:55 pm

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Conference at Bilkent 1-4 June: Mary Wollstonecraft.

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The Contribution of Wollstonecraft to Contemporary Issues in Philosophy

1-2 June 2017 Bilkent University (Room A130)
3-4 June 2017 Cappadocia.

Mary Wollstonecraft worked primarily on social and political philosophy, with an emphasis on republicanism, education and women’s rights. But she also touched on other topics: slavery, aesthetics, marriage, work, family, masculinity, virtue, reason, passions, theology and epistemology.

The driving motivation for this workshop is not primarily to develop Wollstonecraft scholarship, but to show how the issues she discussed are still philosophically relevant and that her arguments sometimes can cast light on contemporary problems. A second aim is to show that the study of women philosophers of the past is a highly productive part of academic philosophy, and to model how it may be done.


Sarah Hutton (York)
Hatice Nur Erkizan (Muğla)

Sandrine Bergès (Bilkent)
Laura Brace (Leicester)
Alan Coffee (KCL)
Özlem Duva (Dokuz Eylül)
Patrick Fessenbecker (Bilkent)
Burcu Gürkan (İstanbul Şehir)
Zübeyde Karadağ Thorpe (Hacettepe)
Lucas Thorpe (Boğaziçi)
Saniye Vatansever (Yeditepe)
Roberta Wedge
Gözde Yıldırım (Boğaziçi)

Detailed program, abstracts and commentators will soon be announced here.

This project is funded through a Newton mobility fellowship.
The workshop is organized by Sandrine Bergès and Alan Coffee, in co-operation with the Department of Philosophy at Bilkent.

Mary on the Green

Written by Sandrine Berges

April 13, 2017 at 12:18 pm

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Talk at Bilkent 7 April: Jan Kandiyali

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Jan Kandiyali (İTÜ) “Marx on Meaningful Work”

Friday 7 April, 2017, 1100-1230, G-160


Abstract: While the idea of meaningful work is historically associated with Karl Marx, recent defences of the idea have tended to eschew Marx’s theory on the grounds that it is is incoherent and not necessarily desirable. In this paper I  argue that this eschewal is a mistake. Marx’s theory, though not without its problems, has the resources to respond to the family of objections that are often thought fatal to it; moreover, his writings continue to provide us with a theory of work from which we can learn. Indeed, it is argued that we find in Marx a plausible theory of meaningful work, one that focuses on the contribution that producing for others can make to our well-being.

Written by Sandrine Berges

April 4, 2017 at 12:56 pm

Talk at Bilkent 31 March: Mehmet Elgin

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Mehmet Elgin (Muğla University)

“Why Do Evolutionary Biologists Formulate A Priori Laws Rather Than Empirical Laws?”

Friday 31 March, 2017, 11-12:30, G160.



Abstract: Unlike any branch of physics, evolutionary biology is peppered with a priori mathematical models. It is important to explain why this is the case. I will argue that when we examine the principle of natural selection carefully, we see that this law relates fitness to gene frequencies. Fitness appealed to in this law is stripped away from any physical or biological details and it represents a mere mathematical value. When we relate this value to gene frequencies, we are relating two mathematical values. As a result we end up with a priori laws. I will then provide a more general argument for this fact: Fitness is a genuine multiply realizable property. Only laws that can be formulated about genuinely multiply realizable states are a priori laws. Therefore, only laws that can be formulated about fitness are a priori laws. I will finally argue that such a priori laws in evolutionary biology have very important functions: They are essential for us to be able to formulate empirically testable causal hypotheses about the evolution of specific populations and they are also indispensable in developing causal explanations systematically.

Written by Sandrine Berges

March 27, 2017 at 3:30 pm