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Research Seminar in Post-Kantian European Philosophy, 2019/2020

Unless otherwise stated, Post-Kantian European Philosophy Research Group seminars take place on Tuesdays, 5:30–7:30pm in Room S0.11 (ground floor of Social Studies). All welcome. For further information, please contact tbc

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Wed 6 May, '20
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Commitment lab meeting
Contact: Matt Chennels
Thu 7 May, '20
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Knowledge and Understanding Seminar: All Students Welcome
By Zoom

Speaker: David Bather Woods (Warwick)

Title: 'The World as One: Learning from Solitude with Schopenhauer'

Abstract

Schopenhauer praises solitude and derides sociability. An active mind requires solitude, and tolerance of solitude requires an active mind, thus a capacity for solitude is an intellectual virtue, he reasons. The need for sociability, a sign of an inactive mind, is solitude’s opposite vice. Time has not been kind to this view. It is now widely accepted, and has scarcely been more apparent, that human beings are ineluctably social creatures, and better off that way. Worse still, Schopenhauer’s praise of solitude jars with his praise of worldliness as another intellectual virtue. Thinkers should learn from experience of the world, he believes; but can thinkers be both worldly and solitary? How can they know more about the world by getting out in it less? I propose a reading of Schopenhauer’s praise of the intellectual virtue of solitude which is neither insensitive to the patent human need for sociability, nor inconsistent with the intellectual virtue of worldliness.

Fri 8 May, '20
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The Communicative Mind reading group
Contact: Richard Moore

 

Fri 8 May, '20
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Truth and Truthfulness Webinar: Chapter 2: Geneology - All Students Welcome
By Zoom

Text: 'Truth and Truthfulness' by Bernard Williams (2002)

Mon 11 May, '20
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WMA WIP Daniel Vanello "Moral understanding, moral individuality, and the irreplaceability of the individual” via Teams
Daniel Vanello: "Moral understanding, moral individuality, and the irreplaceability of the individual”

Abstract: The paper tackles a fundamental puzzle about our moral understanding. On the one hand, we take it as a requirement of our moral understanding that its content be generalisable. On the other hand, we give moral significance to particular relationships we enjoy only with a select few. The puzzle has been widely discussed in debates between impartialists and partialists, in particular regarding the status of special obligations. Although I tackle the puzzle of moral understanding by remaining within a framework familiar to the debate between impartialists and partialists, I focus on a less discussed topic: moral individuality and the irreplaceability of the individual. To this effect, I set up a debate between Bernard Williams, David Velleman and Raimond Gaita. I argue that both Williams and Velleman fail to give an account of the irreplaceability of the individual. I then argue that Gaita’s work allows us to diagnose both Williams’ and Velleman’s failure. I also argue that it provides us with an understanding of the irreplaceability of the individual and of moral individuality that explains both why we give special moral significance to our particular relationships and that at the same time is generalisable, thus furthering our understanding of the puzzle.

Contact: Lucy Campbell

Wed 13 May, '20
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Commitment lab meeting
Contact: Matt Chennels
Wed 13 May, '20
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Philosophy Department Colloquium: Richard Moore: 'The Communicative Foundations of Propositional Attitude Psychology'
By Zoom

Speaker: Richard Moore

The Communicative Foundations of Propositional Attitude Psychology

Abstract:

According to a widely held dogma, a developed propositional attitude psychology is a prerequisite of attributing communicative intent, and so a developmental prerequisite of natural language acquisition. This view is difficult to reconcile with developmental evidence, which shows not only that children do not develop propositional attitudes until they are four years old (e.g. Rakoczy 2017), but also that this development is parasitic upon natural language acquisition (de Villiers & de Villers 2000; Lohmann & Tomasello 2003; Low 2010), and that it recruits brain regions that do not exist in infancy (Grosse-Wiesmann et al. 2017). Against the received view, and building on my work on minimally Gricean communication (Moore 2017a), I sketch a developmental trajectory to show how propositional attitude psychology could be both invented and learned through communicative interaction. I finish by considering the conditions in which cultural tools for mental state representation might first have been developed in human history; and the extent to which our early human ancestors might have lacked propositional attitudes. The goal of the paper will not be to show that strong nativism about human mindreading must be false, but that there is no reason to take it for granted in considering the origins of the modern human mind.


Thu 14 May, '20
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Knowledge and Understanding Seminar
By Zoom

Speaker: Eileen John (Warwick)

Title: 'Learning from Artistic Disagreement'

Abstract​: "When we disagree about the meaning and value of works of art, we do not always bother to argue about it, but sometimes we do. Arguments about art can be pursued seriously, and such disagreements can mark somehow important faultlines between people. What are these disagreements about, why are they difficult to resolve, and what can be learned from them? Stanley Cavell says that ‘the familiar lack of conclusiveness in aesthetic argument, rather than showing up an irrationality, shows the kind of rationality it has, and needs’ (MWMWWS, 86). Responding to Cavell and to some work by Fabian Dorsch, both of whom defend the unusual rationality of aesthetic judgement and argument, I will resist some of the ‘particularising’ accounts of the difficulty of these practices. I will also make some not-well-defended claims about the role of reasons in the context of artistic evaluation."

Fri 15 May, '20
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The Communicative Mind reading group
Contact: Richard Moore

 

Fri 15 May, '20
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Truth and Truthfulness Webinar: Chapter 3: The State of Nature - A Rough Guide
By Zoom

Text: 'Truth and Truthfulness' by Bernard Williams (2002)

Wed 20 May, '20
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Commitment lab meeting
Contact: Matt Chennels
Thu 21 May, '20
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Knowledge and Understanding Seminar
By Zoom

Speaker: Simon Wimmer (TU Dortmund)

Title: 'What if Knowledge and Belief Took Different Objects?'

Abstract​: Suppose one knows and believes that it is raining. What relation do one’s knowledge state and one’s belief state bear to each other? The aim of this paper is to explore what constraints on answering this question follow if knowledge is an attitude to a fact, whilst belief is not.

Fri 22 May, '20
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Seminar by Zoom: 'The Unity of Knowledge' with Professor Katalin Farkas (CEU)
By Zoom

This is to announce that the seminar with Katalin Farkas (CEU) which was originally scheduled for April 16th has been **rescheduled** as a Zoom meeting.

Title: 'The Unity of Knowledge'

Speaker: Professor Katalin Farkas (CEU)

Abstract:
"English uses the same word, “know”, for knowing things, knowing that something is the case, and knowing how to do things. Many other languages distinguish among two or three of these types. Is the English word simply polysemous, or is there an insight here - is there a conception of knowledge that covers all three cases? One option has been to claim that the first and the third are in fact reducible to the second: all knowledge is knowledge of truth, and this gives knowledge a unity. This talks surveys alternative proposals for a unified conception of knowledge. On these proposals, objectual or practical knowledge is not reducible to factual knowledge, yet there is a broader conception of knowledge that covers both, or all three. For example, Linda Zagzebski claims that knowledge is cognitive contact with reality that arises from the exercise of an intellectual virtue. The contact can be direct contact with an object, or mediated contact with a fact through the awareness of a proposition. Other ideas about finding a common essence for objectual, factual and practical knowledge will be considered."
 
Format: Professor Farkas will give a talk, followed by a short break and then a Q&A. No previous reading is required. Please contact Lucy Campbell if you would like to register to join this event.

Fri 22 May, '20
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Truth and Truthfulness Webinar: Chapter 4: Truth, Assertion and Belief
By Zoom

Text: 'Truth and Truthfulness' by Bernard Williams (2002)

Mon 25 May, '20
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WMA WIP Jack Shardlow “Time and temporal experience, through Russell and Moore” via Teams
Jack Shardlow: “Time and temporal experience, through Russell and Moore”

 

Abstract: This paper develops the account of our experience and knowledge of time put forward by Russell in his Theory of Knowledge manuscript. Although Russell abandons the project after it receives severe criticism from Wittgenstein (though several chapters derived from it appear as articles in Monist), in producing this manuscript ‘time’, and particularly the notion of ‘the present time’, gave Russell much pause for thought.

As he was notorious for changing his mind on various philosophical issues, in the present discussion I propose to focus largely on Russell’s writing in 1912-3, comparing and contrasting this with some of the remarks made about memory and about the transparency of experience by Moore. My motivation is twofold. First as a matter of scholarship, because Russell’s expressed view over this period has often been misinterpreted and misconstrued. Second as a matter of philosophical curiosity. With an increase in interest in discussions of temporal experience in contemporary discussions, from the philosophy of memory to the temporal aspects of perceptual experience, Russell’s writing in 1912-3 provides us with an interesting (and rarely explicitly offered or defended) position in logical space, making this an independently fruitful and worthwhile undertaking.

Contact: Lucy Campbell

Wed 27 May, '20
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Commitment lab meeting
Contact: Matt Chennels
Thu 28 May, '20
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Knowledge and Understanding Seminar
By Zoom

Speaker: Christoph Hoerl (Warwick)

Title: 'Episodic Memory and Knowledge'

Abstract​: According to Locke, memory is the power of the mind "to revive perceptions which it once had, with this additional perception annexed to them, that it has had them before". I will refer to theories that fit Locke's general description as 'two-factor theories' of memory, and I will assume that they are meant specifically to provide an account of episodic memory. Such two-factories have been very popular historically, and they have seen a resurgence in recent years, because they are seen to be in line with certain empirical findings about the neural structures underpinning episodic memory. I will sketch a number of problems facing two-factor theories of episodic memory, and suggest that they have a common root, which is that the concept of knowledge is absent from the account two factor theories give of episodic memory. An account that instead puts centre stage the idea that episodic memory involves the retention of a certain type of knowledge can avoid the problems that two-factor theories of episodic memory face.

Fri 29 May, '20
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The Communicative Mind reading group
Contact: Richard Moore

 

Fri 29 May, '20
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Truth and Truthfulness Webinar: Chapter 5: Sincerity: Lying and Other Styles of Deceit
By Zoom

Text: 'Truth and Truthfulness' by Bernard Williams (2002)

Wed 3 Jun, '20
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Commitment lab meeting
Contact: Matt Chennels
Wed 3 Jun, '20
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Philosophy Department Colloquium: Carrie Figdor (University of Iowa)
By Zoom

Speaker: Carrie Figdor (University of Iowa)

Title: What could cognition be, if not human cognition?
Abstract: We have long thought about cognition from an anthropocentric perspective, where human cognition is treated as the standard for full-fledged capacities throughout the biological world. This makes no evolutionary sense. I will discuss the theoretical and methodological shifts away from this perspective in comparative research — shifts that lie behind recent discoveries of advanced cognition in many non-humans — and how these changes bear on the debate between those who see human and non-human cognition as continuous (a difference in degree) vs. those who see them as discontinuous (a difference in kind).
Thu 4 Jun, '20
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Knowledge and Understanding Seminar
By Zoom

Speaker: Richard Gipps (Oxford)

Title: 'On the Importance of Not Understanding the Patient'

Abstract​: "One kind of everyday understanding that we seek has to do with making sense of what someone’s getting at or on about with her initially opaque words or actions. The retrieval of such meaning is a mainstay of everyday life and an ambition that psychology often brings with it to the clinical setting – even when the thought there under consideration is psychotic. It’s also presupposed by such efforts at understanding, causally, why the patient thinks as she does as invoke the notion of a mistake or illusion: we can’t understand why someone makes a particular mistake unless we already understand something of its content. (The understanding here is captured by suggestions like: ‘Were I in her cognitive/perceptual/somatosensory/existential/environmental predicament, I’d come to that conclusion too’).
In this paper I suggest that certain theories of thought disorder, passivity experience and delusion – theories which hope to understand the patient by retrieving his speaker’s meaning – radically fail. They do so because they trade on an alienated conception of ordinary mental life which is itself only sustained by illusions of sense; they attempt to reduce delusion to illusion; and they fail the patient by evading the fact of, rather than meeting him in the midst of, his brokenness.
Despite the impossibility of retrieving speaker’s meaning from truly psychotic discourse, this does not render unavailable other forms of understanding (symbolic/motivational, neurological, situational etc.) of the psychotic subject. Even so, if we’re to achieve, with the psychotic subject, that (moral) form of understanding which can be said to be shown someone, we must first learn to avoid the temptation of attributing speaker’s or agent’s meaning to his psychotic words and acts. To this end this paper outlines what I’ll call an ‘apophatic’ (as opposed to a ‘cataphatic’) psychopathology. This ‘apophatic’ approach aims at understanding the patient not through positively understanding her words’ meaning but instead through understanding just why some of the things we’re most tempted to say of her fail her.
"​

Fri 5 Jun, '20
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The Communicative Mind reading group
Contact: Richard Moore

 

Fri 5 Jun, '20
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Truth and Truthfulness Webinar: Chapter 6: Accuracy: A Sense of Reality
By Zoom

Text: 'Truth and Truthfulness' by Bernard Williams (2002)

Thu 11 Jun, '20
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WMA WIP Giulia Luvisotto
Thu 11 Jun, '20
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Knowledge and Understanding Seminar
By Zoom

Speaker: Johannes Roessler (Warwick)

Title: 'Self-Understanding'

Abstract​: "Intentional agents seem to have a distinctive ‘first-personal’ way of knowing what they are doing (Anscombe’s ‘practical knowledge’) as well as, connectedly, a distinctive ‘first-personal’ way of understanding why they are doing it, in terms of their practical reasons. In this talk I consider a puzzle generated by two further plausible suggestions: traits of character play an essential (if perhaps implicit) role in reason-giving explanations of intentional actions; but we have no first-person knowledge of our character. I won’t try to solve the puzzle, merely to get a better understanding of it (drawing on work by Hursthouse, Kant, and Montaigne)."​

Fri 12 Jun, '20
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Truth and Truthfulness Webinar: Chapter 7: What Was Wrong with Minos?
By Zoom

Text: 'Truth and Truthfulness' by Bernard Williams (2002)

Wed 17 Jun, '20
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Philosophy Department Colloquium
By Zoom

Speaker: Sameer Bajaj (Warwick)

Title: "Democratic Mandates and the Ethics of Representation."

Democratic Mandates and the Ethics of Representation

A day after the Tories achieved a decisive victory in the December 2019 British general election, Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared that he had received a “huge great stonking mandate” to get Brexit done and implement his domestic policy agenda. Whether or not what Johnson received is appropriately described as huge, great, or stonking, his statement reflects a more general idea that has wide currency in conventional democratic thought—namely, that larger electoral victories give representatives greater mandates to govern. Despite its important role in the practice of democratic politics, democratic theorists have paid little attention to the questions of whether larger electoral victories actually give representatives greater mandates to govern and, if so, what the moral implications of having a greater or lesser mandate are. My aim in this essay is to answer these questions and, in doing so, lay the groundwork for a normative theory of democratic mandates. I suggest that the key to answering the questions lies in understanding the relationship between two functions of democratic votes. Votes have a metaphysical function: they authorise representatives to govern. And votes have an expressive function: they express attitudes about the representatives they authorise. I defend what I call the dependence thesis: the content, size, and moral implications of a representative’s mandate depend on the attitudes expressed by the votes that generate the mandate. I then argue that, given certain ineliminable features of large-scale democratic politics, real-world democratic representatives are rarely in a position to justifiably claim greater mandates based on the size of their electoral victories.

Thu 18 Jun, '20
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Knowledge and Understanding Seminar
By Zoom

Speaker: Maria Corrado (Warwick)

Title: 'Action, Force, and Auditory Perception'

Abstract​: "In chapter 2 of Individuals, Strawson (1959) explores the case of a purely auditory world, which he considers to be exempt of material things, to test whether there could be a conceptual scheme that accommodates the existence of objective particulars which does not rely on material things. Strawson’s assessment of a purely auditory world raises a question as to whether purely auditory perceptual experience does enable direct cognitive contact with an objective, material world. I pursue the thesis that the purely auditory delivers materiality through the notion of force. My leading reasoning is that (1) insofar as exertion of force is a mark of materiality, and (2) insofar as force is apparent in purely auditory perceptual experience, (3) there is a mark of materiality that is apparent in auditory perceptual experience. On this occasion, I focus on providing motivation for the claim that (2) force is apparent in auditory perceptual experience by defending the thesis that it is possible to directly observe force in things interacting at a distance from one. My strategy is to argue that a cogent explanation of our ability to successfully act or bring about the desired changes in the world requires that we are capable to perceptually observe the force that objects exert at a distance from us. Accepting that force is observable at a distance from one brings us a step closer to the view that force is apparent in auditory perceptual experience of collisions. The plan is to then use this insight as a starting point to defend, at a later stage, the thesis that purely auditory perceptual experience provides us with the material to justify the objectivity of our sensory experience."​​

Fri 19 Jun, '20
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Truth and Truthfulness Webinar: Chapter 8: From Sincerity to Authenticity
By Zoom

Text: 'Truth and Truthfulness' by Bernard Williams (2002)