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WMA Graduate Research Seminar, 2023/2024

Research seminar run in conjunction with the WMA Research Centre and open to all philosophy postgraduate students.
If you would like to receive email notifications about the seminar, please email h dot lerman at warwick dot ac dot uk
 
In Summer Term the seminar will take place on Wednesdays, weeks 4-7 and 9, at 14:00-16:00, in room S1.39.
 

In preparation for MindGrad we will dedicate the first 3 sessions to 3 papers by Matt Soteriou and the following 2 session to background reading for Lea Salje's talk.

Week 4: Matt Soteriou, ‘Determining the Future’ [pdf]

Week 5: Matt Soteriou, ‘The past made present: Mental time travel in episodic recollection’ [pdf]

Week 6: Matt Soteriou, ‘Waking Up and Being Conscious' [link]

Week 7: Eli Alshanetsky, Articulating a Thought, Introduction [link] and Chapter 2 'A Puzzle' [link]

Week 9: Alex Byrne, 'Knowing that I'm thinking' [link]

 

Previous Seminars

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Thu 3 Nov, '22
-
PG Work in Progress Seminar
S2.77/MS Teams

This week’s speaker will be Johan Heemskerk (PhD)

Title: is "Gloss or Theory? A Worry for Science Based Theories of Content".

 Abstract:

Many philosophers working on mental content pursue a particular methodology. This involves consulting cognitive science literature and attempting to extract a naturalistic theory of mental content. Such a theory should allow us to specify, for any given representation, how its content is determined. There is a sense, as Tyler Burge puts it, that cognitive science has discovered "without being fully aware of its own accomplishment" (Burge, 2010) an implicit theory of content determination. It is the job of the philosopher to make the implicit theory explicit, maybe with some details filled in. In this paper I attempt to motivate a worry for the philosopher inclined to follow such a methodology. Using an argument from Frances Egan, I raise the concern that cognitive scientists do not have an implicit theory of content. Rather, they assign content based on purely heuristic concerns, for instance a concern for communicating the theory to the reader. Content would then be a "gloss", without theoretical underpinnings. I do not attempt to answer this concern, but I do explore some ways we might begin to respond.

 

Mon 7 Nov, '22 - Fri 11 Nov, '22
9am - 6pm
Reading Week

Runs from Monday, November 07 to Friday, November 11.

Thu 10 Nov, '22
-
PG Work in Progress Seminar
S2.77/MS Teams

Speaker: Bruna Picas-I-Prats (PhD)

Title: Title: Architectonic Systematics and Cartographic Systematics: Kant and Hegel on Meta-systematic Accounts

Thursday 10 November 2022

5pm in S2.77 and on MS Teams

 

Abstract:

There is an open discussion on whether there is a concern for systematicity in Kantian philosophy and whether Kant intended to build up a system of philosophy. There is an approach in this discussion that highlights that two different possibilities for systematic organization can be found in the Critique of Pure Reason (KrV). On the one hand, an architectonic notion of ordination (AS) corresponds to the notion of systems developed in the Architectonic of Pure Reason. In it, by system, Kant understands the unity of the manifold cognitions under one idea. The type of relationship that the idea provides is a linkage of articulatio, in the function of which each part hangs together in an inner mutual bearing. The metaphor that Kant deploys to illustrate this notion is an analogy of a living organism, whose growth and development do not depend on adding parts according to quantitative criteria, but with a view to improving the functions of its parts in relation to the whole (See, KrV, A832/B61). On the other hand, a cartographic notion of system (CS) can also be found in the First Critique, represented by the image of a map, the function of which is to order a diversity of places and regions of space to allow us to orient ourselves in them. Hence, CS is formed by a horizontal juxtaposition of parts which allows qualitatively differentiated zones (seas, continents, islands, etc.) to be gathered, and at the same time the “heterogeneity” with respect to their possible foundation to be maintained. Taking these two notions of system into account, the aim here is to try to state that they both coexist in Hegel’s systematicity and that this coexistence is structured by dialectical progression and speculative awareness. 

 

 

Thu 17 Nov, '22
-
PG Work in Progress Seminar
S2.77/MS Teams

Speaker: Toby Tricks (MPhil)

Title: Modelling the Mind: A Fictionalist Reading of Nietzsche’s Drive Psychology

 Abstract:

Nietzche’s account of the drives is increasingly being recognised as central to his philosophical psychology; it is a problem, then, that it appears confused. A particularly prominent issue concerns Nietzsche’s characterisation of how the drives interact with one another: he often uses agential language which many take to commit him to the homunculus fallacy. I argue that this view is mistaken, because Nietzsche’s agential characterisations of the drives are fictions: as they aren’t meant to be true, he is able to sidestep fallacious homuncularism. We might worry that if many of the claims in Nietzsche’s drive psychology are fictional, then it can’t teach us much. That need not be the case, however: drawing on Catherine Elgin’s work in the epistemology of science, I argue that despite being fictional, Nietzsche’s account of the drives can still provide epistemic value and facilitate genuine cognitive achievement, in just the same way that scientific models do despite being idealised and distorted representations of reality. Acknowledging the fictional nature of much of Nietzsche’s drive talk I’ll further argue has an added bonus: it allows us to more fully appreciate the subtlety and power of his account of human psychology.

Thu 24 Nov, '22
-
CANCELLED: PG Work in Progress Seminar
S2.77/MS Teams

TBC

Thu 1 Dec, '22
-
PG Work in Progress Seminar
S2.77/MS Teams

Speaker: Maria Zanella (second-year PhD student)

 Title: Is visualising imagining seeing?

 Abstract: 

Is visualising imagining seeing? Mike Martin thinks so, Bernard Williams thinks not. In ‘The Transparency of Experience’, Martin criticizes Williams’ argument, but his criticism is based on a misreading of Williams’ ‘Imagination and the Self’, as I shall show. The dispute between Martin and Williams is about whether imagining seeing something is necessary in order to imagine what it would look like were it to be seen from a point of view. I, like Williams, think that it is not; I shall present my reasons for thinking so and my reasons for thinking that the extant arguments for the necessity are weak.

 

 

Thu 8 Dec, '22
-
PG Work in Progress Seminar
S2.77/MS Teams

Speaker: Achim Wamssler (PhD)

Title: Arbitrariness, Freedom of the will and Contingency in Hegel's Philosophy of Right

Everyone Welcome!

 Abstract: In the Elements of the Philosophy of Right Hegel discusses the concept of arbitrariness (freedom of choice) as part of his more general endeavour to develop a conception of will and freedom. In several passages he speaks of arbitrariness as being contingent. Being interested in Hegel’s concept of contingency I like to address the following points. (1) What exactly is arbitrariness for Hegel and how does this concept depict his understanding of the debate about free will and freedom of choice? (2) Hegel’s criticism of the concept of arbitrariness and of the debate concerning the possibility of freedom of choice. (3) His affirmation of certain points of the conception. (4) And finally, I like to address the question, in which way, for Hegel, arbitrariness is related to contingency.

Thu 12 Jan, '23
-
PG WiP Seminar
S2.77/online

This week's PG WiP seminar will be led by Giulia Lorenzi (PhD).

Title: "Understanding Musical Virtuosity to Understand the Perception of Music"

Everyone welcome!

 Abstract:

In the realm of auditory perception, philosophers have considered the perception of music as a distinctive case, differentiating it from the perception of noises and everyday life sounds. In order to explain the uniqueness of perceiving music, Scruton (1997) has proposed what he called the acousmatic view, namely the idea that when we experience sounds in the musical context we do so divorcing them from their sources and circumstances of production. This clearly contrasts with the standard view of perception as the source of information about the external world which should characterise, in Scruton’s account, the perception of ordinary sounds. Hamilton (2007, 2009), however, has proposed that both the acousmatic and the non-acousmatic experience of music are aesthetically relevant, constructing as a consequence a two-fold theory which embraces both.  

In order to argue for an account that could combine both acousmatic and non-acousmatic experience tough, Hamilton has the burden of proving how the non-acousmatic experience (the one implying thoughts and awareness of the origins of sounds) can be relevant in the musical context. In order to do that, he presents four objects to Scruton’s account which consider the acousmatic experience as the only essential way to engage with musical sounds. 

In this talk, I am going to focus on Hamilton’s objection on the perception of virtuosity with the intention to support and strength is idea that a non-acousmatic experience of music is both possible and relevant for aesthetic appreciation. In order to do so, I am going to look to accounts of virtuosity present in the literature, sketch a new possible way to go and show how the nature of this aesthetic phenomenon in itself, however understood, requires a non-acousmatic experience in order to be perceived as this phenomenon.

  

Thu 19 Jan, '23
-
PG Work in Progress Seminar
S2.77/online

This week's PG WiP Seminar will be led by Will Gildea.

Title: "Humans and Animals: Identical Moral Status, Different Anti-Killing Rights"

Abstract:

Existing views of moral status and the rights not to be killed that they help to ground are inadequate for one of two reasons. Either they fail to accommodate the intuition that humans matter as much as each other regardless of whether they possess advanced psychological capacities, or they fail to imply that killing humans is always or almost always harder to justify than killing animals. I offer an account of moral status and anti-killing rights that, uniquely within the actualist literature, accommodates both intuitions, explaining why humans are equals and also why humans have more robust anti-killing rights than animals. I defend the egalitarian intuition about moral status by arguing that all humans and animals that matter at all matter equally. I defend the intuition about killing by offering a new account of the grounds of anti-killing rights, according to which an individual’s rights not to be killed don’t just stem from their moral status. They can also stem from some of their normal rights against interference and to the receipt of goods. Autonomous humans have special rights of non-interference. And deeply cognitively impaired humans have special rights to certain goods. So, whilst killing animals generally violates their rights, human lives are protected even more robustly against killing.

Thu 26 Jan, '23
-
PG Work in Progress Seminar
S2.77/MS Teams

Oscar North-Concar (PhD)

Title: Thick concepts and Objectivity; Assessing Vayrynen's Pragmatic view.

Thursday 26th in S2.77 and on teams. Everyone welcomed!

Abstract:

Moral and ethical concepts are sometimes divided into two categories, ‘thin’ and ‘thick’. The difference can be characterised in the following way: when we describe an action thinly as ‘wrong’, we evaluate it negatively. However, when we evaluate an action with a thick concept like ‘selfish’ or ‘cruel’, we also describe the way in which it is wrong. Bernard Williams uses the notion of thick concepts to challenge the idea that objectivity is possible in the domain of ethics through claiming that they are both central to ethics and constitutively linked with particular ethical outlooks. However, the notion of thick concepts has proven to be problematic. The coherency of any metaethical view that puts thick concepts front and centre stage has been challenged on the grounds that there might not be anything distinctively significant about them after all. In this paper I’ll explore this tension. Specifically, I’ll discuss an argument from Pekka Vayrynen (2013) that claims thick concepts do not have distinctive significance. I aim to argue that Vayrynen does not demonstrate that thick concepts have no bearing on questions surrounding objectivity in ethics.

Thu 2 Feb, '23
-
PG Work in Progress Seminar
S2.77/MS Teams
Thu 9 Feb, '23
-
CANCELLED:PG Work in Progress Seminar
S2.77/MS Teams
Thu 16 Feb, '23
-
PG Work in Progress Seminar
S2.77/online

Title: "Moral supervenience and non-naturalism: assessing Jackson’s challenge"

Thursday 16th February 2023

5pm in S2.77 and on TeamsLink opens in a new window.

 Everyone welcome!

 Abstract:

Frank Jackson has argued that, given that every moral predicate is necessarily coextensive with a natural one, moral properties are identical to natural ones. Against this, Jussi Suikkanen has responded with an appeal to Leibniz’s Law, which states that any two identical entities share all of their properties. If moral properties were just natural properties, then moral properties would share all of their higher-order properties with natural ones. A moral non-naturalist – someone who thinks moral properties are not identical with natural properties – can then argue for distinctive higher-order properties that set the moral realm apart. Classically, non-naturalist moral epistemology has asserted that moral knowledge is obtained in a unique way: by reflection, rather than empirical investigation. The non-naturalist can then argue that moral properties have distinctive epistemic properties of their own. I will argue that this cannot be used as a reply against Jackson.

Thu 23 Feb, '23
-
PG Work in Progress Seminar
S2.77/MS Teams

This week, Emily Bassett (PhD) will present "What do we mean by a moral emotion?: Responding to De Sousa". Everyone welcome!

 Abstract:

When it comes to morality and the emotions, we seem to be drawn to the idea that certain emotions are more salient to morality than others. Emotions such as guilt, shame and resentment appear to be more distinctly moral to us than sadness or joy. However, attempts to explain what makes some emotions more distinctly moral than others - to single out a coherent group of 'moral emotions - have largely been unsuccessful. In light of this, De Sousa has argued that our intuitions are mistaken. All emotions are equally relevant to morality. In this talk, I will argue that De Sousa's argument rests on two assumptions. First, on the assumption that emotions are on par with other intentional states such as belief in how they connect with morality. As beliefs are moral when they have moral content, emotions are moral when they have moral content. Second, on the assumption that this is the only salient connection that can be made between the emotions and morality. If we reject this second assumption, we leave open the possibility of distinguishing moral from non-moral emotions.

 

Thu 2 Mar, '23
-
PG Work in Progress Seminar
S2.77/MS Teams

This week's PG WiP Seminar will be led by Chris Hall (MA)

 

Title: "Debunker or Global Skeptic: Considering the Distinctiveness of Evolutionary Debunking Arguments "

Thursday March 2nd 2023

5pm in S2.77 and on TeamsLink opens in a new window.

 

Everyone welcome!

 

Abstract:

For the moral realist, both evolutionary debunking arguments and global skepticism present a challenge to the possibility of moral knowledge. Debunkers typically see their challenge as distinct from broader forms of skepticism, the thought being that they target moral knowledge specifically and depend on a particular empirical claim about the evolutionary origins of our moral beliefs. The importance of this distinctiveness is illustrated by the fact that a common response to the debunker is to suggest that the argument leads to global skepticism. In this paper, I examine the relationship between evolutionary debunking arguments and global skepticism. I argue that it is essential to the debunker’s project to avoid committing to a broader skepticism, and consider various ways in which this commitment can occur. I claim that avoiding this requires formulating the debunking argument in a specific way. A number of evolutionary debunking arguments fall short on this front. To illustrate the problem, I consider a recent paper from Isserow (2019) which presents an evolutionary debunking argument based on our apparent ignorance of how evolution shaped our moral beliefs. On my account, Isserow’s argument leads to global skepticism. Moreover, Isserow’s argument is instructive when considering both whether other debunking arguments do the same and how the problem can be avoided.

Teams link:

https://teams.microsoft.com/l/meetup-join/19%3aa49e6af9675349fda02fee164134326a%40thread.tacv2/1677520801646?context=%7b%22Tid%22%3a%2209bacfbd-47ef-4465-9265-3546f2eaf6bc%22%2c%22Oid%22%3a%22863fe7ea-b111-4632-8afe-04f610ff4c1e%22%7d

 

 

Thu 9 Mar, '23
-
PG Work in Progress Seminar
S2.77/MS Teams

This week's PG WiP Seminar will be led by Giulia Lorenzini (PhD)

 

Title: "On the Distinctiveness of Listening to Music"

Thursday March 9th 2023

5pm in S2.77 and on TeamsLink opens in a new window.

 Everyone welcome!

 Abstract:

In philosophy of auditory perception, taxonomic works, such as O’Callaghan (2021) and O’Callaghan & Nudds (2009), consider the perception of music as a distinctive case. Yet, the current literature on the matter does not furnish a standardised and generally accepted reason for which this should be the case. In this talk, I consider two possible ways to go to reply to the question regarding the distinctiveness of perceiving music. I start presenting what I call here “the Naturalistic View”, based on Budd (2008) and DiBona’s (2022) works. I then show how this view provides some insights on necessary, yet, not sufficient mechanisms, at play in the experience of perceiving music. I proceed considering Scruton’s account of the experience of music, to which I refer here as “the Metaphorical View”. After presenting some wide-spread criticisms to this view, I discuss the case of enculturated and unenculturated listeners to highlight a core, interesting element present in Scruton’s proposal which I consider worth saving.  

Thu 16 Mar, '23
-
PG Work in Progress Seminar
S2.77/MS Teams

This week's PG WiP Seminar will be led by Xavier Castellà-Güell (PhD)

Title: "Bodily movements, Intentional actions and extra features"

Thursday March 16th 2023

5pm in S2.77 and on TeamsLink opens in a new window.

Everyone welcome!

 Abstract:

The prevalent, orthodox view on the nature of intentional action is the theory that has been called the “standard story of action” (STA). STA is the thesis that an intentional action is an action or a bodily movement that is the causal product of an intention to bring about the action in question. This theory has been defended by, among others, Davidson and Smith. STA has been the object of various objections. For example, some have argued that STA cannot exclude deviant causal chains in a non-ad hoc way. For others, the main problem with STA is that it is compatible with an image of intentional action that excludes the causal role of the agent in the production of action.

 

I am going to focus on a more general type of critique, oriented towards what we could call "additional property theory". The additional property theory is the theory that an action can be characterized as intentional by having a property that is independent of those properties that qualify the action as being the type of action that it is. STA is an example of the additional property theory in that it postulates that an action is intentional to the extent that it possesses the additional property of being caused by a certain qualified type of mental event. If my position against the additional property theory is correct, then not only do we seem to have good justification for ruling out STA, but we can also diagnose what appears to be the fundamental problem with this theory. This diagnosis, I contend, can offer us further insight into the nature of intentional action.

 

Thu 27 Apr, '23
-
PG Work in Progress Seminar
S2.77/MS Teams
Wed 3 May, '23
-
PG Work in Progress Seminar
S2.77/MS Teams
Thu 11 May, '23
-
PG Work in Progress Seminar
S2.77/MS Teams
Thu 18 May, '23
-
PG Work in Progress Seminar
S2.77/MS Teams
Thu 25 May, '23
-
PG Work in Progress Seminar
S2.77/MS Teams
Thu 8 Jun, '23
-
PG Work in Progress Seminar
S2.77/MS Teams
Thu 15 Jun, '23
-
PG Work in Progress Seminar
S2.77/MS Teams
Thu 22 Jun, '23
-
PG Work in Progress Seminar
S2.77/MS Teams
Thu 29 Jun, '23
-
PG Work in Progress Seminar
S2.77/MS Teams
Fri 6 Oct, '23
-
WiP Seminar - Clarissa Mueller
S2.77
Thu 12 Oct, '23
-
WiP Seminar - Eve Poirier 'Plausible Abstractions: The role of fiction, truth and history in Genealogy and State of Nature Philosophy'
S2.77

Eve Poirer will present 'Plausible Abstractions: The role of fiction, truth and history in Genealogy and State of Nature Philosophy'. Everyone welcome!

Abstract

 

What is the place of historical truth in Genealogy? Why appeal to State of Nature stories even when we know they could never have happened? How far can philosophy abstract from reality while still having explanatory relevance? Pulling from Bernard Williams, Nietzsche, Nozick, Foucault and others, I will attempt to tackle some of these questions: exploring broadly the interaction between supposedly true historical happenings and fictional abstractions in Genealogies and State of Nature stories. I will discuss the purposes for which Genealogy is employed, the way in which State of Nature stories attempt to abstract from history, and the importance of 'plausibility' or 'conceivability' in the explanatory relevance or effectiveness of Genealogy. From this, I hope to suggest some conclusions about the appropriate and inappropriate use of Genealogy. That said, this is a work very much in progress on a very broad topic, so I hope that there will be further conclusion to be found in the discussion.

 

Teams link

 

https://teams.microsoft.com/l/meetup-join/19%3aa49e6af9675349fda02fee164134326a%40thread.tacv2/1696871238131?context=%7b%22Tid%22%3a%2209bacfbd-47ef-4465-9265-3546f2eaf6bc%22%2c%22Oid%22%3a%22fdb1bbe9-d582-4ba3-8da8-3fb0a6c42dc8%22%2c%22MessageId%22%3a%221696871351606%22%7d

Thu 19 Oct, '23
-
WiP Seminar
S2.77
Thu 26 Oct, '23
-
WiP Seminar
S2.77

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