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Sunday, November 09, 2008

Phenomenal Red and The Phenomenal Intentionality Research Program

A lot has been going on the last couple of weeks. Last week we had the Introspection and Consciousness workshop, which was organized by Declan Smithies and Daniel Stoljar, and last Friday Mike Titelbaum hosted a mini-workshop on Sleeping Beauty, with talks by Kenny "Knows About Everything" Easwaran, Terry "Feigning Indifference" Horgan, Wo "The Last Lewisian Halfer" Schwartz, and Mike "Our Ever So Funny Organizer" Titelbaum (the middle names are for the most part due to Mike).

Last Thursday Terry Horgan gave a talk entitled "The Phenomenal Intentionality Research Program", which was based on a larger research project done in cooperation with Uriah Kriegel, and I want to say a bit about this project.

The main thesis of the phenomenal intentionality research program is that intentionality (or representation) has its source in phenomenal character (the what-it's-likeness of experience). Phenomenal intentionality has its source directly in phenomenal character, whereas other forms of intentionality derive from phenomenal intentionality. The main thesis is not new (Terry, Searle and others have defended versions of this view), but it certainly is no less controversial than it used to be. The main thesis can admittedly be spelled out as a relatively uncontroversial supervenience thesis, viz. the thesis that phenomenal intentionality supervenes on phenomenal character. But Terry wants to defend a stronger view, viz the view that all (phenomenal) intentional properties are identical to phenomenal properties.

Now, this latter claim is consistent with the thesis that not all phenomenal properties are intentional properties. This is good news, because it is not hard to imagine phenomenal properties which do not represent. Consider, for instance, a red afterimage. Plausibly the redness of some red afterimages does not represent or aim at representing anything. Or maybe it does represent but then plausibly it doesn't represent in the same way as the redness of, say, a visual experience as of a ripe tomato.

But now a problem seems to arise for the phenomenal intentionality thesis. Consider a red afterimage and a visual experience as of a ripe tomato. It's plausible that the rednesses of the two experiences are phenomenally indiscernible. Moreover, it is plausible that the redness of the tomato experience represents, whereas the redness of the afterimage does not represent (or at least does not represent in the same way). But we then need to distinguish between two kinds of phenomenal red, one corresponding to the phenomenal redness of the red afterimage and one corresponding to the phenomenal redness of the tomato experience -- call them 'phenomenal-red-1' and 'phenomenal-red-2'. But we just agreed that the perceiver needn't be in a position to distinguish between phenomenal-red-1 and phenomenal-red-2 on phenomenal grounds. So, the fact that there are two kinds of phenomenal red isn't grounded in phenomenology. Worse: the fact that one of the phenomenal redness properties represents whereas the other doesn't isn't grounded in phenomenology either. So, there are facts about intentionality that are not grounded in phenomenology. There is no direct tension between this latter claim and the claim that all (phenomenal) intentional properties are phenomenal properties, but it seems a bit odd to defend the thesis that all intentionality has its source in phenomenology and then admit that some facts about intentionality are not grounded in phenomenology.

Terry has subsequently responded to my objection by saying that phenomenal properties acquire their intentionality in context. On this view, whether or not a phenomenal property is an intentional property will depend in part on the overall phenomenal character of the experience. This line seems initially promising. It certainly can explain why the redness of my red tomato experience represents whereas the redness that flows before my eyes after starring at a flashlight does not represent (or does not represent in the same way).

However, I wonder whether one could strengthen the objection in the following way. Suppose one has a red afterimage that fills all of one's visual field and (at a slightly later time) one has a visual experience as of a part of a very large red wall (s.t. the redness fills all of one's visual field). The two experiences could in principle be phenomenally indistinguishable, yet plausibly the two redness properties represent in different ways. But if this is so, then the fact that the two redness properties represent in different ways is not grounded in phenomenology; hence, not all facts about intentionality are grounded in phenomenology. And in this case, it doesn't seem feasible to claim that the phenomenal redness properties acquire their intentionality in context. After all, the only property appearing in the visual field is the property red. So, arguably, there is no context for phenomenal red-1 and phenomenal-red-2 to acquire their intentionality in.

SEP Entry

A new version of our Stanford Encyclopedia entry on the knowability paradox is now online.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Conference Pics

Just got back from my US/Copenhagen trip. The Second Annual MEW conference was a huge success. This year it was organized by Al Casullo and Sandy Goldberg. Matt Mullins took some pics. They can be found on Matt's facebook page but I have also uploaded some of them here.

UPDATE: All the conference pictures are now available here.

Two post-doctoral research fellowships in Social Epistemology

The research project "The Epistemology of Liberal Democracy – truth, free speech and
disagreement" funded by the Velux Foundation invites applications for two 2-year post-doctoral fellowship. Starting date: February 2009.

The two successful applicants will join an international research group consisting of
Klemens Kappel (Copenhagen), Duncan Pritchard (Edinburgh), Erik Olsson (Lund) and Igor Douven (Leuven), Jesper Kallestrup (Edinburgh), and Mikkel Gerken (Copenhagen).

The two research fellows will spend most of their time carrying out the above research project in close collaboration with members of the research group. The project includes funding for a number of international workshops and for two international conferences, and the research fellows will help organize these.

The research fellows will be based at the Division of Philosophy, University of
Copenhagen. Working language will be English, and there is no requirement to learn
Danish. The project includes funding for individual travels, visitors, equipment and other expenses. Applicants need not have published research directly on the questions addressed by the research project, but must have a strong or promising relevant research record. Applicants must have completed their Ph.D. before taking up the research fellowship.

The application and enclosed documentation must include the following:

(1) Full CV, including information about areas of competence, areas of specialization, teaching, academic supervision, research organization and administration, and previous research positions.
(2) Three writing samples in the form of book chapters or journal articles. Unpublished work will be accepted. Books or book length manuscripts should not be submitted.
(3) A complete and numbered list of publications.
(4) A brief outline of a research plan for the first year of no more than two pages, not including references. The research plan should relate to one or more of the research questions and research strategies outlined in the research proposal.
The application with enclosures must be submitted in four copies. Material in electronic form – such as CDs – is not accepted.

For more information, contact Dr. Klemens Kappel,

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Online Dictionary for Food Tongue

Remember the "Lagadonian language" food tongue? There is now apparently an online dictionary for it, but it is hard to understand without already knowing the language... (thanks to Christopher Owen for the link)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I have now finally had a chance to upload a copy of my Inscrutability and Ontological Commitment paper to my webpage. Will soon upload some pics etc from my recent trip to the US and Copenhagen.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Epistemology: 5 Questions

Vincent F. Hendricks and Duncan Pritchard just published a collection of short interviews based on 5 questions presented to 21 leading scholars in epistemology. The questions are primarily meta-epistemological and concern, among other things, the role of epistemology in relation to other areas, neglected areas of epistemology, and epistemology in the future. Should be a fun read!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Knowability Book

Joe's knowability book is becoming more real.

Monday, August 11, 2008


I just uploaded a draft of an encyclopedia entry I am writing on descriptions. It's still just a super-rough draft. But if any of you might have any comments you'd like to share, then please don't hesitate to email me. The word count is rather limited, so I apologize in advance if I haven't included your seminal work on descriptions in the entry. Of course, if it's seminal it should be included. So please don't hesitate to email me about that as well.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Monday, August 04, 2008

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Live Blogging

Live blogging from the World Congress of Philosophy, Seoul Korea. Very cool.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Women, Tenure and Age

Check out this recent post at the Splintered Mind, which has some data on the relationship between age, gender, and rank. The data indicate that female philosophers progress more slowly through the ranks than their male colleagues. Thanks Joshua and Eric for collecting these data!

Monday, July 14, 2008

The AAP, Seafood, Open Access, and More

It's been a bit quiet around here cuz things have been quite hectic around here, that is, here at Lemmings and here down under. Ya know, conferences, visitors, the Wig, dinners, and deadlines. Will be back with more frequent postings and updates after things quiet down at the end of August. In the meantime some announcements:

Just returned from the AAP -- the Australian version of the APA -- highly recommendable. Much like Pacific APAs, just better. David Chalmers has uploaded some pics from the conference. The seafood was just fabulous (hate that word but it's true), the talks were very high quality (blind refereeing is highly overrated!), and our very own Jonathan Schaffer won the prize for the best AJP paper in the last couple of years. That's impressive, especially given that he just won the APA prize for the best journal article in the last couple of years. Good going, Jonathan!

Later this week there is a fantastic-looking conference on the relational and representational character of perception, organized by Susanna Schellenberg. So, if you're in the neighborhood, you probably would do well to check it out.

Episteme, Issue 4.3 - a themed issue on Testimony will be freely available for download for 14 days (July 7 - July 21). I am a big fan of open access!

The latest issue of The Reasoner is now freely available for download in pdf format. I am a big fan of open access!

There is an upcoming graduate philosophy conference in the Nothern spring 09 at the University at Buffalo on the work of Lynne Rudder Baker, followed by a grown-ups conference, also on the work of LRB. Attendees include: Lynne Rudder Baker (MIT), Amie Thomasson (U of Miami), Derek Pereboom (U Conn), Crawford Elder (Cornell), and Brian Garrett (McMaster). Check it out.

I think this X-PHI survey is still running. If it is, go take it. It's good fun and actually makes you re-evaluate your own beliefs, desires and intentions -- probably not what they intended but a nice side effect. And, according to Jonathan, I am now officially a supporter of X-PHI (having run a couple of highly irregular linguistics surveys) -- so go take that survey, would you!

Monday, May 19, 2008

34th annual meeting of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology

June 26-29, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Registration is now open; deadline Thursday, June 5 -- 12:00pm EST


George Ainslie, Michael L. Anderson, Louise Antony
Peter Carruthers, Louis Charland, Anjan Chatterjee
David Danks, Felipe De Brigard, Michael Devitt
Marthah Farah, Evelina Fedorenko, Owen Flanagan,
Jerry Fodor, Kenneth R. Foster, Lila R. Gleitman (President of SPP)
George Graham, Bryce Huebner, Bertram F. Malle,
Barbara Malt, Christopher Meacham, Dominic P. Murphy
Thomas Nadelhoffer, Kenneth Norman, Mike Oaksford
Erik Parens, Nancy Petry, Jeffrey Poland
Zenon Pylyshyn, Sarah Robins, Paul Rozin,
Laurie R. Santos (the 2008 Stanton Prize winner)
Michael Strevens, Justin Sytsma, Kelly Trogdon
Charles Wallis, Deena Weisberg, Daniel Weiskopf
Fei Xu, and Carlos Zednik, among many others.

This year's conference will be preceded June 25-26 by a workshop on experimental philosophy.

For more information click here.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Midwest Epistemology Workshop

The second annual Midwest Epistemology Workshop will be held October 17-18, 2008 on the campus of the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The workshop will consist of seven nonconcurrent sessions, each involving a presentation of 45 minutes followed by 45 minutes of discussion, and a longer keynote address. Tyler Burge (UCLA) will give the keynote address.

Speakers: Mike Bergmann (Purdue), Brit Brogaard (ANU/Missouri-St. Louis), Juan Comesana (Wisconsin), Andy Egan (Michigan), Adam Leite (Indiana), Peter Markie (Missouri), and Jonathan Weinberg (Indiana).

More detailed information about the program, accommodations, and travel is available at the conference website.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

EPISTEME Sixth Annual Conference

EPISTEME will hold its sixth annual conference at Northwestern University on June 26-27, 2009. The 2009 meeting will focus on the epistemological significance of disagreement.

Confirmed participants include: Michael Bergmann (Purdue), Stewart Cohen (Arizona State), Sherrilyn Roush (Berkeley) and Roger White(MIT).

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES: Papers should be no more than 5,000 words, excluding notes and references, and should be prepared for blind review. Electronic submissions should be sent to David.Christensen(at) by January 15, 2009. Approximately four papers will be selected from the submissions for presentation at the conference. The selected papers will also be published, along with the papers of the confirmed participants above, in a special issue of EPISTEME, with David Christensen as the Guest Editor.

Conference organizers: Alvin Goldman (Rutgers), Jennifer Lackey (Northwestern) and David Christensen (Brown).

Monday, May 05, 2008

The Reasoner 2(5)

The latest issue of The Reasoner is now available for download in pdf format.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What we all think about knowing

Cross-cultural uniformity and diversity in epistemic assessments

An interdisciplinary workshop at the University of Toronto

May 17, 2008

Speakers: Stephen Stich, Rebecca Saxe and Anna Papafragou

Click here for further details.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Episteme 4: 3, Perspectives on Testimony

Guest Editor: Jennifer Lackey. Contributors: Peter Lipton, Linda Zagzebski, Melissa Koenig and Paul Harris, Patrick Rysiew, Paul Faulkner, Al Casullo, John Greco, Marc Moffet, Arnon Keren, and Jonathan Adler. Click here for further details.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Monday, March 31, 2008

Saturday, March 29, 2008

More Migration

This time it's Theories n Things.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

LWBM Hits the Road

New location and a stylish new look.

Thursday, March 06, 2008


I will be on the road for a while, and will probably have limited internet access. So no blogging in the meantime.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Power of Mind

Here you can see the first show in the TV-series "Tankens magt", which aired last Friday.

Monday, March 03, 2008

The Reasoner 2 (3)

The latest issue of The Reasoner is now freely available for download in pdf format.

Friday, February 29, 2008


Good ol' math and good ol' defense mechanisms (Thanks to Josh Eaves for the link)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Perception, Language and Space

Conference on Perception, Language, and Space at The Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology program at Washington University in St. Louis. Saturday & Sunday March 1-2.

Invited speakers include: Laura Carlson (Notre Dame), Anjan Chatterjee(Pennsylvania), Rick Grush (UC San Diego), Barbara Landau (Johns Hopkins), Leonard Talmy (Buffalo), Barbara Tversky (Stanford), Jeff Zacks (Wash U)

The Epistemology of Liberal Democracy

University of Copenhagen, Denmark

November 20-21, 2008

Confirmed speakers: Alvin Goldman (Rutgers), Erik Olsson (Lund), Christian List (LSE), Duncan Pritchard (Edinburgh), Igor Douven (Louvan), Klemens Kappel (Copenhagen), Jesper Kallestrup (Edinburgh), Wlodek Rabinowicz (Lund). Sandy Goldberg (Northwestern)

Call for papers. Papers are invited on any of the topics of the conference. Abstracts of no more than 1000 words should be sent to the organizing comittee at

Please prepare submissions for blind review. Deadline for submission is August 15th, 2008. Notifications of acceptance will be made no later than September 15th, 2008.

Registration details will be announced soon at conference website.

For further information, contact Klemens Kappel (

Organizers: Klemens Kappel, Erik Olsson, Duncan Pritchard, Jesper Kallestrup, Mikkel Gerken.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

New PhilRel Weblog

New PhilRel blog with lots of cool probability stuff.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Random Beach Pictures

Holly Lawford-Smith and Wolfgang Schwartz

Susanna Schellenberg and David Chalmers

Beach gang

Joe Salerno and Rebecca Britney Brogaard Salerno

J.C. Bjerring

Aisling Crean and Yuri Cath

Declan Smithies and audience

Audience and a well-deserved beer

Me rehearsing something plainly obvious

Daniel Star, Jonathan Schaffer and Becky at the camp fire

A historic moment: Fiona MacPherson convincing Holly and me to become vegans.

Dave in one of his thoughtful moments

David "Mystery" Bourget

Dave and yours truly

Kangaroos: "Will you play with us?"

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Still the Happiest in the World

The Danes ... It must be really nice to be over there. Turns out Australia aint so bad either (HT: Adam Arico).

Summaries of Beach Talks

Here and here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Philosophy TV Show

The Power of Mind is a DK4 TV-series on philosophy hosted by Vincent F. Hendricks and devoted to fundamental philosophical questions.

The first show will air on Friday, February 29, 19:30.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Epistemology at the Beach

Our pics are now up

Back in Town

Just got back from the Epistemology at the Beach Conference. That was one great conference. Lots of fun talks and philosophical discussion, swimming, beach soccer, camp fires, stargazing on the beach, too much to drink. Am currently in the process of recovering. Hopefully I will be able to say something more substantial about the talks later and maybe upload some pictures.

UPDATE: Susanna posted some pics from the conference on her facebook page but I think you have to be on facebook to see them.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Going to the Beach

So, I am going to the beach tomorrow to participate in the Epistemology at the Beach Conference at ANU's Kioloa Coastal Campus, which Declan Smithies is organizing. Looks like a fantastic conference. Great talks, and plenty of time for swimming and sunbathing.

St. Louis University Bans V-Day

The administrators at SLU have banned V-Day -- a global movement to stop violence against women and girls.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Peter Hare Memorial Celebration

A Memorial Celebration for Peter Hare, recently deceased professor
emeritus of philosophy at the University at Buffalo, will be held at 2pm
on March 29, 2008 at the Center for Inquiry in Amherst, New York. For a tentative schedule, directions to the Center for Inquiry, and local accommodations, click here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Logical Analysis and History of Philosophy: Call for Papers

Call for papers: Logical Analysis and History of Philosophy

Topic: Ancient Philosophy.

Deadline for submission: Sep. 30, 2008.

Papers should be sent to:

Prof. Dr. Uwe Meixner, Philosophisches Institut, Universität des Saarlandes, Postfach 15 11 50, 66041 Saarbrücken, Germany, E-mail:


Prof. Dr. Albert Newen, Institut für Philosophie, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universitätsstr. 150, 44801 Bochum, Germany, E-mail:

Questions: Prof. Newen (

Monday, February 11, 2008

Woman Bashing

I just read Stanley Fish' interesting column on Hillary-bashing (thanks to Susanna Schellenberg for the link). Though not his main focus Fish draws attention to the fact that sexism is not always a crime committed by old bearded men. Women are just as actively engaged in the recent Hillary-bashing as their male companions. Perhaps sexism is not the driving force behind the hatred but it seems at least partially responsible. Unlike their male counterparts women may not come right into your living room and say that Hillary is a power-addict who has "pimped out" her daughter. No -- female woman bashers won't do that. That's too blatant, not nearly as effective. Female woman bashers tend to be more subtle and more insidious. It's the high-school phenomenon. Girls who put girls in their "right" place. Smart girls were never in fashion -- for whatever reason. Perhaps it's time for a change. As one of Fish's commenters nicely puts it:

Sure, don’t we all hate those smart girls who always make the right move, the teachers pets, the one with all the answers, the one who may be smarter than us? But that is who we need in leadership!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

New Blog on Gender, Race and Philosophy

The Symposia on Gender, Race and Philosophy has started a new blog: Gender, Race and Philosophy: The Blog. The blog will feature discussions of philosophical work on race and gender as well as current events. Their first post is on Obama (HT: Sally Haslanger).

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Videoclip from Award Ceremony

Here is a videoclip with Vincent Hendricks at the award ceremony.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Refereeing Practices: Single- or Double-Blind?

A recent study conducted by Budden et al indicates that double-blind refereeing helps to increase the representation of women in ecology journals. The researchers compared Behavioral Ecology, which implemented double-blind refereeing in 2001, to Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, which remains single-blind refereed. Following the introduction of double-blind refereeing there was a 33% percent increase in the number of women represented in BE.

So, why is blind refereeing not standardly employed in ecology? As the article points out, the following four reasons are frequently cited:

1) Increased admistrative burden.
2) Referees can determine author identify in other ways.
3) The decreased potential for more feedback to junior people.
4) Harder to "detect publication of the same data across multiple papers"

But none of them survives closer scrutiny.

Ad 1) If the journal asks authors to prepare their papers for blind review, double-blind refereeing does not increase the work load for the editor. And there certainly shouldn't be an increased burden on the reviewer, as we should expect the reviewer to apply the same high standards in both cases.
Ad 2) Guesses tend to be inaccurate. Referees make correct guesses only in 25% - 42% of the cases. A related concern is that referees might google the paper, which would make double-blind refereeing redundant. But, as not every author posts their work in progress, this is not a foolproof method for determining author identity either.
Ad 3) If this is a real concern, the editor (who knows the author's identity) could ask the referee for a written report, rather than a 'yes' or 'no' assessment.
Ad 4) This may be a genuine concern in the sciences. But I doubt that it generalizes to other areas. It certainly is not a concern in philosophy, as far as I can tell.

So what are the lessons (if any) for philosophy? Well, most philosophy journals are already double-blind refereed, but the data can perhaps explain the underrepresentation of women in edited volumes (as inclusion is determined prior to refereeing). It might also give reason to implement tripple-blind refereeing (i.e., neither editor nor referee knows the author's identity).

(Thanks to Claire Horisk for sending the link)

The Reasoner 2 (2)

The latest issue of The Reasoner is now available for download in pdf

Saturday, February 02, 2008

The Mom Song

(Thanks to Richard Hull for the pointer)

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Advice from the Scientists

Young Female Scientist offers some interesting reflections on what she thinks she ought to have done differently early on in her career.

Female Science Professor offers advice on what not to include in your research statement.

Am I a Woman Scientist reflects on perceived intelligence.

I don't know if all of this carries over to philosophy. But I am sure some of it will be of interest.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

MacFarlane, Kratzer-Conditionals and Knowing What You Ought to Do

At the AOC conference John MacFarlane gave a paper (co-authored with Niko Kolodny), defending an assessment-sensitive semantics for 'ought'. In MacFarlane-style assessment-sensitive semantics the truth-value of utterances will depend on features determined by the context of assessment and not just on features determined by the context of utterance and circumstance-shifting operators. Thus, my utterance of 'John ought to pay his bill' may have different truth-values, depending on who is considering it for truth.

The paper is very rich. I can't cover all the details. But the paper includes, as part of its defense, a Kratzer-inspired theory of indicative conditionals. On the theory in question, conditional 'ought'-statements are always narrow-scope rather than wide-scope. So, the conditional 'if I get drinks in the bar, then I ought to pay' has the correct form with the 'ought' taking narrow scope. 'It ought to be the case that if I get drinks in the bar, I pay', on the other hand, must be paraphrased as 'if I get drinks in the bar, I ought to pay'.

I have one concern about this account of conditional 'oughts', which piggybacks on John Broome's concern about narrow-scope conditional requirements. Consider the conditional 'ought' statement:

(1) If I (sincerely) assert the sentence 'there is a department meeting this afternoon', then I ought to believe that there is a department meeting this afternoon.

(1) seems true. After all, there is supposed to be a close connection between assertion and belief. But now consider the following scenario.

I have strong evidence that there is no department meeting this afternoon but I assert 'there is a department meeting this afternoon'.

Since I asserted that there is a department meeting this afternoon, it would seem that I ought to believe that there is a department meeting this afternoon. And since I have strong evidence that there is no department meeting this afternoon, it ought to be the case that I don't believe that there is a department meeting this afternoon. So, it ought to be the case that I believe and don't believe that there is a department meeting this afternoon. But this can't be right. So, something must have gone wrong.

MacFarlane rejects modus ponens. So, the following inference form is not unrestrictedly valid:

If I assert 'there is a department meeting this afternoon', then I ought to believe that there is one.
I assert 'there is a department meeting this afternoon
So I ought to believe that there is one

So he can avoid the unfortunate consequence. But there is an alternative move available. Broome's move. Broome allows for wide-scope 'ought' statements (or 'requirement' statements but I am here focusing on 'ought' statements). So, it is not quite right that if I assert 'there is a department meeting', then I ought to believe that there is one. Rather, it ought to be the case that if I assert 'there is a department meeting', then I believe that there is one. Moreover, detachment fails. So the following inference is invalid:

It ought to be the case that if I assert 'there is a department meeting', then I believe that there is one
I assert 'there is a department meeting'
Hence, I ought to believe that there is one

Of course, Broome could allow the following inferences:

It ought to be the case that if I assert 'there is a department meeting', then I believe that there is one
I ought to assert 'there is a department meeting'
Hence, I ought to believe that there is one

It ought to be the that if I assert 'there is a department meeting', then I believe that there is one
I assert 'there is a department meeting', and it is not the case that I ought not to assert 'there is a department meeting'
Hence, I ought to believe that there is one

My main concern with the MacFarlane move (i.e., his theory of conditionals) is that on the assumption that the first sentence is a narrow-scope 'ought' statement, the following instance of modus ponens seems exceedingly plausible:

If I assert 'there is a department meeting this afternoon', then I ought to believe that there is one.
I assert 'there is a department meeting this afternoon'
So I ought to believe that there is one

However, as we have seen, if we accept just this one instance of modus ponens, then we can derive a contradiction in the envisaged circumstances.

Here is a second potential worry about MacFarlane's (and Kolodny's) account. For MacFarlane, possible world-states are states compatible with what is known (by the assessor). The ideal world-states are a subset of the possible world-states (the set of the most ideal states). Now, consider 4-year old Mary. Her mom has told her that if her pants are on fire, she ought to pour water on them. She truly believes but doesn't *know* that if her pants are on fire, she ought to pour water on them, and she doesn't know that liquid hydrogen is distinct from water. So, in some of the possible world-states (where Mary is the assessor), water = liquid hydrogen and in others water is not identical to liquid hydrogen (since she doesn't know about the identity). Moreover, since she doesn't know that if her pants are on fire she ought to pour water on them, water = liquid hydrogen in some of the ideal possible world-states, and in some of those states, Mary's pants are on fire and she pours liquid hydrogen on her pants (causing an explosion). Assuming 'she ought to' and 'she is permitted to' are duals, it follows that if Mary's pants are on fire, she is permitted to pour liquid hydrogen on her pants, which seems unintuitive (even when she is the assessor).

For further discussion of MacFarlane's paper, click here and here.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Princess Mary and Hendricks at the Award Ceremony

Vincent Hendricks receiving the Elite Research Prize by Crown Princess Mary.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Elite Research Prize to Vincent Hendricks

This afternoon Vincent F. Hendricks, Professor of Formal Philosophy at Roskilde University, Denmark and Editor-in-Chief of Synthese, will be awarded the Elite Research Prize by the Danish Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation and Her Majesty, Crown Princess Mary. The prize, which is by far the biggest (1.000.000 Danish Kroner, approximately $200.000) and most prestigious prize of its kind in Denmark, is awarded by the Danish Government to the most outstanding national researcher who in an extraordinary way contributes to strengthening Danish research internationally.

The award ceremony takes place at The Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen on January 24, 2008, 2:30 – 6.30 pm.

For more information about the prize and the ceremony, click here.

For more information on Professor Vincent F. Hendricks, click here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Philosophers Carnival # 61

... is here.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Weatherson on Influence

At the AOC conference Brian Weatherson gave a paper on causation defending a disjunctive account. The paper begins by considering various causative statements, e.g. 'John opened the window'. It then argues that the obtaining of the special causal relation that obtains when a causative statement is true is sufficient (but not necessary) for causation.

The other disjunct (or sufficient condition) is influence. Influence differs from causal dependence. An event E causally depends on a prior event C iff if C hadn't occurred, then E wouldn't have occurred. Causal dependence is sometimes taken to be a necessary constraint on influence. However, for C to influence E, it must also be the case that if C had occurred at a different time, then E would have occurred at a different time, and if C had occurred differently, then E would have occurred differently. Weatherson argues that causal dependence is not a necessary constraint on influence.

However, I think this latter assumption is problematic. Here is a potential counterexample. Suppose there is an evacuation "test" event during which a number of American residents are evacuated out of America (Brian is one of them), and suppose Brian moves to Rutgers right after the evacuation event (a bit later than he otherwise would have).

The evacuation event is not the cause of Brian moving to Rutgers. Yet if the evacuation event had occurred at a different time, then we can imagine that Brian's move would have occurred at a different time as well (we can set up the case that way). Moreover, if the evacuation event had occurred differently (suppose e.g. that Brian was not one of the chosen ones), then his move to Rutgers might have occurred differently as well (e.g., it wouldn't involve a trip from overseas).

The right kind of response to this example, I think, is to take causal dependence to be a necessary constraint on influence. Brian would still have moved to Rutgers even if the evacuation event hadn't occurred.

Of course, if we *do* take causal dependence to be a necessary constraint on influence, then we need to find a way to avoid counting the following sort of causal claim as true:

(1) 2 + 2 = 4 and the evacuation event (as described above) are the joint cause of Brian's move to Rutgers.

On the standard Lewisian account of counterpossibles, 'if 2 + 2 weren't 4, then Brian wouldn't have moved to Rutgers' is vacuously true. So, if causal dependence is a necessary constraint on influence, and influence is sufficient for causation (Brian agrees to the latter), then (1) is true. So we want to rule out that counterpossibles are vacuously true across the board (but, as Joe and I argued at the conference, there are ways to do that).

Friday, January 18, 2008

Visibility in Philosophy

Vincent Hendricks recently gave a talk to his new PhD-students on how to gain visibility in philosophy. You can download his slides here.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Chairing Principles

There are many different theories about how best to chair a session. Disagreement arises in particular when it comes to the principles for determining the order in which people get to speak. Some will simply put people on the list in the order that they see them raise their hand---but remember, seeing is theory-laden. Others will invoke more sophisticated principles, for instance, pick people in the back before picking people in the front or pick people to the left before picking people to the right, and so on. In Arizona Agustin Rayo (aka 'Augustin Reyo') would punish people who raised their hands one second too late (the slow ones didn't get to ask follow-ups, etc.), and Ned Markosian put people whom he thought had already spoken too much in earlier sessions at the end of his list. Both Agustin and Ned were punished for these practices. Here is a picture of Agustin being punished.

And then there is the whole hand vs. hand + finger debate. In Arizona the hand + finger fans were out-voted by the hand fans. Why be a hand + finger fan? Because sometimes people are just dying to jump in in the middle of a discussion. So the hand + finger procedure could save lives. Why be a hand fan? Because the finger procedure can lead to finger-abuse, finger-nails and finger-f Finger-abuse is the process of using your finger to ask your real (and completely unrelated) question because you are too impatient to wait your turn. A finger-nail (an expression invented by Dave Chalmers) is a follow-up on a follow-up and is bound to be irrelevant to the original question. And (a term of art invented by Jonathan Schaffer) is finger-abuse of the most severe kind. Finger-f...ers use their finger so much that it causes others to be pushed off the list because the session runs out of time. We then say that he or she has been finger-f...ed.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Pics from AOC

Our pictures from the Arizona Ontology Conference are now up. Joe has further details on some of the talks. More details later.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Live from AOC

This is me on my horse Viking. Carrie took the picture. For some live blogging, check out Joe's post over at Knowability.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Greetings from AOC

Hello folks. We are having a blast at the Arizona Ontology Conference. Yesterday we rode our horses to the cook-out site, where Andy Agan gave his talk. Scooter (my horse last year) was busy. So, I got to ride a horse called 'Viking' (very fitting). Nice horse. Likes to run off the trail if at all possible. Went on the fast ride today. It was a mountain ride. Very exhausting (for the horse). Wanna see some pictures from the conference?. Go to Carrie's site. The cool cowgirl in the picture is Laurie Paul (followed by Stephie Lewis). Carrie is the master photographer. More details and photos will follow soon.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Peter Hewitt Hare (1935-2008)

I am deeply saddened to learn that my former teacher and mentor Peter Hare, highly influential contributor to the study of American Philosophy and Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at SUNY Buffalo, has passed away. Peter was a wonderful teacher and person, fun to be around and fun to speak to. Whenever I had a conversation with Peter, I always left feeling inspired and full of hope and optimism. He will be truly missed.

UPDATE: Peter died from a pulmonary embolism that may have been caused by a clot that developed on a plane trip. Obituaries can be found here, here, here and here.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Greetings from the Northern Hemisphere

Alright, so happy new year everyone! Just returned (to somewhere in Jersey) from an intense meeting in Baltimore. Met up with old friends and gave a talk on quantifiers (will get the paper up soon). Jason offered some really nice comments. Party last night in Baltimore. Had too many cups of Henry's imported whiskey and left the room without my cell phone. Did you ever see Curious George -- the cartoon? The man with the yellow hat hides George in his no-pet-policy apartment but the door-man has a nose for monkeys and rides the elevator one floor at a time 'til he finds the monkey-contaminated apartment. That was me. Had already gotten down to the lobby-level and had no idea which room the party was in. Couldn't call anyone. Wanted my cell phone back. So, I went from floor to floor. Found a room with loud music and philosophy-talk (or so I thought). Wrong one. Found another one. Got it right this time around. Got my cell phone. Oh man, was I hung-over the next day (the day of my talk, of course). Anyway, that's life. Now back in Jersey, working. Some side-trips to Arizona and some other places soon. New Year's eve -- oh, well -- had to miss out on Dave's cool pool party at his new house in the woods. Attended some sleazy east coast party instead. Anyway, happy happy new year everyone. And all you Canberra friends, hang in there, we will be back soon :-)

New Year Links

A bunch of new Compass articles are now available, including my own on attitude ascriptions.

Automatic Press/VIP now has its own visibility online with all the interview books listed.

Check out this new super-interesting-looking paper on the swamping problem by Duncan Pritchard.

The Reasoner 2(1) is now available. New submissions welcome (100-1000 words)

Possibly Philosophy -- that's Andrew Bacon's new blog. Looks very promising and will no doubt be of interest to readers of Lemmings.

New issue of EPISTEME now available

Volume 4, Issue 1, 2007
Editor: Alvin I. Goldman

Special Issue: Epistemic Relativism
Guest Editor: Frederick F. Schmitt

List of contents and abstracts available here