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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Good news: we are still ranked nationally

We just received the following good news from our chair Gualtiero Piccinini, which I thought was worth repeating here in case you are considering applying to our MA program.

In recent years, our Philosophy MA was ranked as one of the 9 best terminal MA programs in philosophy in the country by the Philosophical Gourmet Report-the most authoritative and up to date ranking of English-speaking graduate programs in philosophy, edited by Brian Leiter of the University of Chicago. Given our recent losses (Ron Munson to retirement, Anna Alexandrova and Robert Northcott currently on leave but expected to stay in the UK), I was worried that this year we would lose our national ranking.

As you may know, a couple of days ago the 2011 Philosophical Gourmet Report was published. To my relief, we are still listed among the 9 best terminal MA programs in the country.

More good news: As a temporary replacement for Robert and Anna we have been able to hire two new people.

Noell Birondo, coming to us from Augustana College, will be a visiting assistant professor for the next two years. Noell obtained his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame in 2004. Besides Augustana College, he has taught at University of Arizona, SIUE, Pomona College, and Claremont McKenna College. Some of his publications are listed here.

Corey Maley is finishing up his dissertation at Princeton University and will be a postdoctoral fellow for the next year and a half. More information about his already distinguished record can be found here.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Eudaimonistic Virtue Epistemology

I just uploaded a first rough draft of my Eudaimonistic Virtue Epistemology paper to my website. If you're interested, you can find it here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Zach Ernst writes about unprincipled denial of tenure

Philosopher Zach Ernst writes about his female colleague and wife who was just denied tenure by her department:

She was also specifically faulted for failing to design new courses for the department. If this strikes you as odd, it should – after all, I have also never designed a new course for the department. Nor was I ever asked to do so. But in my case, this issue never arose. Finally, with respect to her teaching, she was faulted for not teaching a wide enough variety of courses. But as I’ve already mentioned, our courses are assigned by fiat by the chair of the department, without our input or approval. And as you might expect by now, this issue never arose during my tenure process, despite the fact that both she and I taught exactly what we were assigned. Regarding her research, she was faulted because several of her papers were co authored – and as I’ve mentioned already, co-authored work and collaboration of any kind is discouraged in our department. However, a much larger percentage of my own publications were co-authored, often with three other colleagues. And predictably, this issue about co-authored publications was never raised during my tenure review. In fact, our department had recently adopted a policy about credit for co-authored work, which was scrupulously followed by both of us. If anyone should have come under criticism for this issue, it should have been me. I could go on. She had a vastly greater number of more prestigious presentations than I have ever had, many of which were in international forums (none of mine were). She had a larger number of invited articles to the most prestigious presses in her field, many more than I have ever had, despite the fact that I am two years senior to her. And despite all of this, my tenure case was a breeze, and hers has been a failure. When a man and a woman are being evaluated in a male-dominated field such as ours, it’s easy to spot hypocrisy and sexism. I would submit that this is one such case.

Here is the link to the full article. I have seen this happen repeatedly in recent times. Women are held to much higher standards than men in tenure and promotion cases.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Dan Ariely on our buggy moral code

This is not a new video but I think it's pretty interesting.








Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Seeing as a Non-Sensory Relation: The Case from Synesthesia and Visual Imagery

A friend of mine recently asked me whether I thought synesthesia has any philosophical consequences or is just an independently interesting phenomenon. I think it has numerous philosophical consequences. In this paper I outline some consequences of synesthesia for the analysis of the concept of seeing. This is still just a rough draft. Comments are welcome.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Center for Neurodynamics

I just accepted an appointment at the Center for Neurodynamics, directed by physicist Sonya Barhar, at University of Missouri, St. Louis. So my time will be split among my current two departments and the center. I am really looking forward to collaborating with these people. I have also joined the Network for Sensory Research as a research associate. That should be really fun, too.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Non-Visual Consciousness and Visual Images in Blindsight

Consciousness and Cognition recently published this response paper to my paper "Are there unconscious perceptual processes?". They have invited me to write a 1000 word reply. Here is a rough draft of my reply: Non-Visual Consciousness and Visual Images in Blindsight. Comments are welcome.

Interesting very short video of famous people's failures

Free Access to Erkenntnis Articles

As Hannes Leitgeb just pointed out on PHILOS-L, all articles in Erkenntnis will be freely available from now until December 31st, 2011. Here is the link.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

St. Louis Graduate Conference CFP

University of Missouri-St. Louis
March 9-11, 2012 Gateway Graduate Conference in Philosophy


Keynote Speakers:

Amie L. Thomasson, University of Miami
Gillian Russell, Washington University
Berit Brogaard, University of Missouri-Saint Louis

Call For Papers

The graduate students of the University of Missouri-St. Louis invite high quality paper submissions in the areas of metaphysics, ontology, ethics and related subjects in the philosophy of art.

Submission guidelines

● Presenters must be college/university students or postgraduate students.

● Papers must be suitable for a 25 to 30 minute presentation (not to exceed 3500 words or roughly 10–12 pages).

● Papers must be prepared for blind review. All identifying information, including paper title, name, email and 300 words (or less) abstract, must be placed on a separate cover page.

● Email submissions, in either *.pdf, *.docx, *.doc, or *.rft format, and all inquiries to Hannah Bondurant at habkvf@mail.umsl.edu or John Camacho at jac68d@mail.umsl.edu by January 2nd 2012.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Epistemology of Perception

I recently guest-edited a volume of Philosophical Issues on the epistemology of perception. It just came out in print. Contributors include: Roger Albritton (hitherto unpublished paper), Louise Antony, Berit Brogaard, Tony Brueckner, Benj Hellie, Mark Johnston, Mark Kalderon, Uriah Kriegel, Heather Logue, Jack Lyons, Farid Masrour, Alan Millar, Martine Nida-Ruemelin, Adam Pautz, Duncan Pritchard, Roy Sorensen, David Sosa, Matthew Soteriou, Charles Travis, Brian Cutter and Michael Tye.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The Ethics of Sex and Love

For those of you in the St. Louis area: I am on a panel with my colleagues John Brunero and Eric Wiland on the topic "The Ethics of Sex and Love". It will take place in Century Room C, University of Missouri, St. Louis, Tuesday, November 15, 2011, 12:30 to 2 pm. The public advertisement promises a bit more than we can deliver: "Come to a Q&A with John Brunero, Brit Brogaard, and Eric Wiland to figure out what is naughty and nice in life".

Friday, October 28, 2011

Is English Hegemony in Academia Stunting Innovation?

By guest blogger Elaine Hirsch

It shouldn't come as a surprise that English is an established hegemon in today's political and academic spheres. English is one of the official languages of the United Nations. It is also the premiere language spoken at the most prestigious PhD programs around the world. While cultural biases can be attributed to the favoritism shown towards English, globalization and the economic advantages of learning English has magnified the effect in recent years. With Wall Street and Silicon Valley as beacons of hope for anyone looking for a lucrative career, excelling in English has become a barrier of entry for bright students from non-English speaking countries (which unfortunately is highly correlated with developing areas).

In order to attend one of the prestigious universities, students from these areas much pass English proficiency tests such as the TOEFL, IELTS, or TOEIC, depending on country. In Patricia Ryan's talk on the topic, she points out that English proficiency tests have become gatekeepers of higher education; they prevent non-English speaking, poorly-represented students from displaying their rich acumen to the field of higher education. For example, a bright computer scientist from India must exert extra efforts compared to his/her American counterparts if he/she were to apply to an Ivy-League program.

Today, there are 6,000 languages to fumble with. 90 years from now, there will only be 600. For sure, there are efficiencies that are created with a consolidation of languages. A world with only a few languages will reduce the inefficiencies created when ideas are, literally, lost in translation. Furthermore, many languages are lost voluntarily; indigenous speakers relinquish their languages in lieu of more practical languages while maintaining their culture.

When considering efficiencies, however, it is important to consider the externalities and costs created with extinct languages. Although pinning a value of a lost language is much more difficult than valuing a company (financial experts have yet to figure that one out either, mind you), linguists often cite the loss of language as a irrecoverable loss of unique cultural, historical, and ecological knowledge.

Regardless of the values people peg to languages, reality remains that languages are continuing to consolidate in a fast pace. While much of the loss of language remains a voluntary phenomenon, it has indeed erected unnecessary barriers to the higher education sector. English requirements seemingly equate language proficiency to intelligence, as the best universities in the world use English as their language of choice. Instead, removing language barriers would allow universities to attract bright students who otherwise wouldn't have had the opportunity to attend a prestigious university. Perhaps shifting higher education to focus on bringing in teachers from different linguistic backgrounds will end this self-sustaining cycle of English hegemony in higher education.

Elaine Hirsch is kind of a jack-of-all-interests, from education and history to medicine and videogames. This makes it difficult to choose just one life path, so she is currently working as a writer for various education-related sites and writing about all these things instead.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Go Cards!

Once again the religious fervor of the fans of the St. Louis Cardinals has put an obstacle in the way of more important matters. Our student Eric Wilcox recently made the following announcement:

"My dearest Forum,

It is with regret that I must once again postpone the upcoming Symposium, this time indefinitely. Finally having chosen a suitable topic, we were struck with the bad fortune of the Cardinals making it to the World Series. This would usually be a value-neutral event, except for the fact that the Symposium and the World Series are at the exact same time. Given this, it is terrible news and makes me dislike the Cardinals, both the baseball team and, perhaps inappropriately, the species of bird. So instead of presenting you with this rather difficult moral dilemma of choosing attendance between the two events (for indeed this is a moral problem, and of such gravity that it must be considered a dilemma, on par with torturing time-bomb terrorists and rescuing a cart of embryos from a burning hospital), I have decided to cancel the Symposium (again). Rather than rescheduling it (again), I will organize something more informal later in the semester. I hope this doesn't ruin anyone's week; if it does, I suggest you write to the Cardinal's main office. Tell them their excellence in baseball has ruined our chances of philosophical discussion. I suggest you mention Nietzsche on mediocrity and herd-mentality, as it seems particularly apropos. Perhaps they will awaken from their dogmatic slumbers and realize that the true path to greatness is through philosophy and rational discourse, not watching people swing a stick of wood at a ball.

All my best,
Eric Wilcox

Cardinals Executive Office:
700 Clark Street
St. Louis, MO 63102
Phone Number: (314) 345-9600"

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Spring Courses

For those of you who are interested, my course offerings for the spring are as follows:

1. Sexual Ethics (big lecture course, freshmen and sophomore, satisfies the GEN ED requirement and the humanities requirement, cross-listed with the gender studies program)

2. Epistemology: Knowledge and Seemings (upper-level undergraduate and graduate seminar in philosophy)

3. Biological Bases of Behavior (graduate course in neuropsychology)

Course description for epistemology:

Epistemology: Knowledge and Seemings
It is reasonable to think that sensory perception, introspection, memory and intuition can provide justification for our beliefs. But what sort of justification (if any) do they provide? On one view, seemings may provide prima facie justification for beliefs. At first glance, this position is very reasonable. But at further scrutiny, it turns out to face a number of problems. This course is devoted to the study of whether perception, introspection, memory and intuition can provide justification for belief. We will attempt to answer questions such as 'How many kinds of seemings are there?' 'How reliable is memory?' 'Is an internalist theory of justification feasible?', 'Is foundationalism mandatory for epistemic internalists?', 'Can we use a virtue epistemological approach to explain the plausibility of the hypothesis that seemings can justify beliefs?', 'If visual seemings can provide prima facie justification for beliefs, what about appearances that arise from other sense modalities?' 'Can seemings explain the appearance that high-level properties figure in the content of perception?' The course satisfies one of the two M/E requirements.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Postdoc Position at UMSL

UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI-ST. LOUIS, St. Louis, MO. Postdoctoral Fellow, one year appointment with possibility of extension for one or two semesters (pending administrative approval), Department of Philosophy. Begins Spring Semester (January 15) 2012 or later. AOS: philosophy of mind, psychology, neuroscience, and computing. AOC: open. The postdoctoral fellow will work closely with Gualtiero Piccinini on a joint research program. Undergraduate and possibly graduate teaching; one course per semester; no service except professional. Salary competitive. Send CV, three letters of recommendation, and a writing sample to Postdoc Search, Department of Philosophy, University of Missouri-St. Louis, One University Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63121. The University of Missouri is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer committed to excellence through diversity. Minorities and women are encouraged to apply. Application review will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. For more information, email piccininig@umsl.edu.

Friday, September 23, 2011

New APPS: Art, Politics, Philosophy, Science

From now on, you will also see me over at New APPS: Art, Politics, Philosophy, Science. I really look forward to being part of this excellent team of bloggers. You can read my first post here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Social Deviancy, the Law, and Society

By guest blogger Allison Gamble

Deviance and criminal behavior are closely linked concepts in modern thought, although they are not always the same in practice. While the average man on the street may assume deviant behavior is also criminal, in terms of forensic psychology this simply isn't the case. While the categories often overlap, it's possible to be a deviant without being a criminal, or to be a criminal without being socially deviant.

Deviant Behavior, Society, and Social Sanction

Deviant behavior violates what society considers acceptable, while criminal behavior violates the law of that society. The average person sees deviance as behavior not in accordance with the standards of “proper” behavior in society.

Social deviance may include any of the following behaviors:

• Refusing to respect social norms of polite behavior.
This can range from being rude to others to refusing to offer respect to social icons. In general, this sort of behavior brands adherents as standing outside what the majority sees as the acceptable bounds of social activity.

• Unpopular political or religious beliefs.
Minority social or political groups often fall into this category, especially during times of social or ethnic tension. Examples in the United States include abolitionist activists in the Antebellum South, as well as Catholics during the mid- and late-19th century.

• Defying normal class and gender roles.
Early feminists and civil rights advocates often found themselves accused of social deviancy for transgressing against the accepted standards of behavior as it applied to gender and ethnicity.

• Engaging in activities harmful to others.
Murder, theft, rape, and other transgressions that have a direct impact on others are almost universally regarded as both deviant and criminal.

• Criminal behavior.
Although not always the case, many individuals regard breaking the law as a deviant act in and of itself, regardless of the nature of the act. By breaking the law, an individual engages in a defiance of accepted standards of public behavior. However, this definition of deviancy is by no means universal, and a common attribute of unpopular laws is that the majority of the citizenry does not regard disobedience to be a sign of deviant behavior.

Thus, while socially deviant behavior can be criminal, not all criminal offenses are considered socially deviant. Especially in liberal societies, being socially deviant doesn't constitute criminal behavior.

Social Deviancy and Criminal Behavior

However, state and society both often ascribe social deviancy to criminals. In fact, being able to point to the social deviancy of crime is vital to securing the legitimacy of the law in the eyes of a people. Laws which aren't seen as curbing socially deviant behaviors often fail to gain acceptance. Laws that criminalize acts that are nearly universally regarded as socially deviant include laws against rape, pedophilia, murder, violent robbery, or fraud. While those accused of these crimes may deny guilt, they very seldom attempt to defend the acts themselves.

When a population isn't convinced a law enforces social norms, the law often fails. Perhaps the most dramatic example in recent history was Prohibition. Despite the best efforts of proponents, the majority of the population continued to consider alcohol socially acceptable, dooming Prohibition to eventual repeal.

At the other end of the spectrum, perceptions of social deviancy can lead to laws designed specifically to punish deviancy, even where it involves no harm to others. Nudity ordinances are an example of criminal statutes designed solely to enforce social norms and punish social deviants who defy them. Obscenity statues are much the same, and in fact the Supreme Court's approach to obscenity explicitly makes reference to community social standards when determining if something is deviant enough to be labeled obscene.

In these cases, individuals may have radically different opinions about the acceptable or deviant nature of the behavior in question. The legal dependence upon community standards and the average person’s interpretation of them make it clear that standards of social deviancy can vary widely from community to community. Unlike crimes such as murder, in these cases it's very difficult to achieve consensus as to what constitutes deviant behavior, and whether or not it should be criminalized. In the United States, such differences can divide states or even individual communities within those states.

Changing Times and Changing Definitions of Deviancy

This brings up a final factor: definitions of deviant and criminal behavior can change over time, impacting both social and criminal aspects of how behaviors are regarded by society. A number of behaviors, from same-sex relationships to the advocacy of reproductive rights, have been demonized and met with legal sanction. As definitions of deviance change, especially in the eyes of the average population, the relationship between the law and deviant behavior shifts as well.

In this way, both criminal and social standards of deviancy evolve over time, as does the average perception of what constitutes social and legal transgression. The two issues are tightly linked and will always affect each other through mutual influence.

Allison Gamble has been a curious student of psychology since high school. She brings her understanding of the mind to work in the weird world of internet marketing with forensicpsychology.net.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

CFP - McDowell Conference

The Inaugural Dorothy Edgington Lectures will be given by Professor John McDowell

March 2nd-3rd 2012, Birkbeck College

As well as giving two public lectures, John McDowell will lead a 2 day graduate workshop on the Epistemology of Perception. We invite submissions on this topic, from graduate and postgraduate students, to be presented at the workshop.

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: 15th November 2011

SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS:

(1) Papers should be no more than 3,000 words

(including footnotes, excluding bibliography), to be presented in 30 minutes

(2) They should be prepared for blind refereeing

(3) They should include a cover-sheet, with the title, an abstract, your name, institution affiliation, and student status

(4) They should be formatted with 1.5 spacing, 10pt font, and saved as .pdfs, or .doc (not .docx)

(5) Send all submissions to: edgingtonlectures@gmail.com

Small student bursaries will be available for speakers who require assistance with travel costs.

Accommodation for student speakers will be available with members of the department.

Workshop registration is free for graduate students, but there are limited spaces - to register for either the workshop or the lectures email: edgingtonlectures@gmail.com

Monday, September 12, 2011

Perceptual Reports

I have uploaded a new version of my "Perceptual Reports" to my website. Here is the link.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Final Program for the 2011 Meeting of the Central States Philosophical Association

Program, Moonrise Hotel, St. Louis, September 15–17

All talks will take place at (across the street from the Moonrise Hotel):

Regional Arts Commission
6128 Delmar Blvd.
St. Louis, MO. 63112

Plenary Sessions

September 15, RAC- Conference Room C

5:00 Keynote Address: John Doris, Washington University
Chair: Berit Brogaard, UMSL

September 16, RAC- Conference Room C

4:00 Business Meeting and Presidential Address: Berit Brogaard, UMSL
“Intellectual Flourishing as the Fundamental Epistemic Norm”
Chair: Paul Weirich, University of Missouri

5:00-7:00 Reception, Moonrise Rooftop

September 17, RAC- Conference Room C

5:00 Keynote Address: John Hawthorne, University of Oxford
Chair: Berit Brogaard, UMSL

Concurrent Sessions, RAC- Conference Room C, September 15

9:00 An Impasse over Epistemic Value - A Critique of Linda Zagzebski's Arguments Against Pure Reliabilism and Proper Functionalism
Speaker: Devon Bryson, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Chair: John Greco, St. Louis University
Commentator: Andrew Spear, Grand Valley State University

10:00 The Value of Knowledge: A Primary Good
Speaker: Daniel Pilchman, University of California, Irvine
Chair: Heather Werner, UMSL
Commentator: Kristian Marlow, UMSL

11:00 Knowing Versus Knowledge - The Two Questions within the Secondary Value Problem
Speaker: Zack Robinson, UMSL
Chair: Brendan Murday, Ithaca College
Commentator: Trent Dougherty, Baylor University

12:00 Lunch

1:00 Neo-Aristotelian Plenitude
Speaker: Ross Inman, Trinity College, Dublin
Chair: John Heil, Washington University
Commentator: Irem Kurtsal Steen, UMSL

2:00 Functions Must be Performed at Appropriate Rates in Appropriate Situations
Speaker: Gualtiero Piccinini, UMSL, and Justin Garson, Hunter College/City University of New York
Chair: Lynn Chien-Hui Chiu, University of Missouri
Commentator: Eric Kraemer, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

3:00 Special Science Kinds - Property Clusters without Homeostasis
Speaker: Bernhard Nickel, Harvard University
Chair: Sarah Robins, Washington University
Commentator: Christopher Pearson, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

4:00 Panel: Natural Kinds
Speakers: Daniel A. Weiskopf, The Human Stain - Concepts, Anthropic Kinds, and Realism, Georgia State University
Andrew McFarland, How are Kinds Individuated?, University of Kansas
Alexander Bird, The Ontology of Natural Kinds, University of Bristol
John Camacho, Natural Kinds and Scientific Practices, UMSL
Chair: Kent Staley, St. Louis University

Concurrent Sessions, RAC- Conference Room B, September 15

9:00 Frankfurt Cases, Gettier, and the Principle of Alternative Possibilities
Speaker: Adam R. Thompson, University of Nebraska – Lincoln
Chair: Krista Hyde, UMSL
Commentator: Michael Neal, UMSL

10:00 Against Counterfactuals of Libertarian Freedom - There is Nothing I Would have Done if I Could Have Done Otherwise
Speaker: Paul C. Anders, Mount Marty College, and Joshua Thurow, College of Southern Nevada
Chair: Seth Kurtenbach, University of Missouri
Commentator: Grant Sterling, Eastern Illinois University

11:00 Are There True Libertarian Action Counterfactuals?
Speaker: Daniel Rubio, Western Michigan University
Chair: Krista Wiley, UMSL
Commentator: David Killoren, University of Wisconsin – Madison

12:00 Lunch

1:00 Compositional Nihilism and the Puzzles of Coincidence: A Response to McGrath
Speaker: Holly Kantin, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Chair: Leigh C. Vicens, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Commentator: Andrew McFarland, University of Kansas

2:00 Physical Causal Closure and Non-Coincidental Mental Causation
Speaker: Leigh C. Vicens, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Chair: Andrew Melnyk, University of Missouri
Commentator: Eric Douglas Hiddleston, Wayne State University

3:00 Hume, Counterfactuals and Causation
Speaker: Joshua Anderson, St. Louis University
Chair: Dean Obermark, UMSL
Commentator: John Camacho, UMSL

4:00 Panel: Causation
Speakers: David Killoren, Moral Causation, Consequentialism, and the Hazards of Pure Metaethics, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Hannah Abigail Bondurant, Consciousness, Control, and Causation: Some Issues for the Cognitive Physicalist, UMSL
Nicholas K. Simmons, How Much Bearing Does the Correct Construal of 'Causation' Really Have on the Problem of Mental Causation?, University of Kansas
Andrew Ward, Causal Criteria, Inference to the Best Explanation, and Causal Inferences, University of Minnesota
Chair: Simine Vazire, Washington University

Concurrent Sessions, RAC- Conference Room B, September 16

9:00 Rawls on Rectification
Speaker: Sarah Kenehan, Marywood University
Chair: Eric Wilcox, University of Missouri – Kansas City
Commentator: Marcus Arvan, University of Tampa

10:00 Individual Rights and the Restrictive Force of Just Cause - A Response to Jeff McMahan
Speaker: Crystal Allen, University of Missouri
Chair: Bre'Anna Liddell, UMSL
Commentator: Eric Reitan, Oklahoma State University

11:00 Killing in Self-Defense and the Doctrine of Double Effect
Speaker: Phil M. Mouch, Minnesota State University Moorhead
Chair: David McGraw, UMSL
Commentator: Crystal Allen, University of Missouri

12:00 Lunch

1:00 From Insensitivity to Moral Debunking
Speaker: Matthew Braddock, Duke University
Chair: Dan Haybron, St. Louis University
Commentator: Brian Besong, Purdue University

2:00 Moral Perpendiculars
Speaker: Hallie Liberto, University of Connecticut
Chair: Holly Kantin, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Commentator: Molly Gardner, University of Wisconsin – Madison

3:00 Moral Intuitionism and Fundamental Disagreement
Speaker: Brian Besong, Purdue University
Chair: Mylan Engel, Jr., Northern Illinois University
Commentator: Brian Hutchinson, Metropolitan State College of Denver

Concurrent Sessions, RAC- Conference Room C, September 16

9:00 Solving the Generality Problem for Reliabilism and Resolving the Internalist/Externalist Controversy
Speaker: Mylan Engel Jr., Northern Illinois University
Chair: Matthew Cashen, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Commentator: Matthew Braddock, Duke University

10:00 Against the Minimalistic Reading of Epistemic Contextualism - A Reply to Wolfgang Freitag
Speaker: Michael D. Ashfield, Northern Illinois University
Chair: Jeff Dauer, Washington University
Commentator: Geoff Pynn, Northern Illinois University

11:00 Knowledge, Assertion, and the Belief that One Knows
Speaker: Dylan Black, Indiana University – Bloomington
Chair: Michael D. Ashfield, Northern Illinois University
Commentator: Brendan Murday, Ithaca College

12:00 Lunch

1:00 Options and Epistemic Modals
Speaker: Tomis Kapitan, Northern Illinois University
Chair: Roy Sorensen, Washington University
Commentator: Wenwen Fan, University of Missouri

2:00 Epistemic Modals and Practical Reasoning
Speaker: Joshua S. Heter, St. Louis University
Chair: Andrew Spear, Grand Valley State University
Commentator: Lisa Cagle, Washington University

3:00 Determining the Field of Concern with Knowledge
Speaker: Seth Kurtenbach, University of Missouri
Chair: Jessica Wilson, UMSL
Commentator: John Pauley, Simpson College

Concurrent Sessions, RAC- Conference Room C, September 17

9:00 On Hawthorne on Lewis on the Case for Modal Realism
Speaker: Robert William Fischer, University of Illinois at Chicago
Chair: Thomas Sattig, Washington University
Commentator: John Gabriel, Washington University

10:00 Cappelen, Content Relativism, and the “Creative Interpreter”
Speaker: Mark Criley, Illinois Wesleyan University
Chair: Nicholas Baima, Washington University
Commentator: Ronald Loeffler, Grand Valley State University

11:00 A Prosententialist Account of Vagueness
Speaker: Renee Jorgensen, Northern Illinois University
Chair: Ronald Glass, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Commentator: Nicholas Baima, Washington University

12:00 Lunch

1:00 A Simple Proof of Mind-Body Dualism
Speaker: Marcus Arvan, University of Tampa
Chair: Ronald Loeffler, Grand Valley State University
Commentator: Daniel Ryan Weed, UMSL

2:00 The Fact of Cartesian Qualia
Speaker: Brett Coppenger, University of Iowa
Chair: William Robinson, Iowa State University
Commentator: Donald Sievert, University of Missouri

3:00 The (One and Only) Argument for Physicalism about the Mind
Speaker: Jared Bates, Hanover College
Chair: Marcus Arvan, University of Tampa
Commentator: Angie Harris, University of Utah

4:00 Panel: Physicalism
Speakers: William S. Robinson, The Poverty of Physicalism, Iowa State University
Andrew Melnyk, Pereboom on the Formulation of Non-reductive Physicalism, University of Missouri
Eric Kraemer, The Challenges of Non-Physicalism, University of Wisconsin – La Crosse
Chair: Jared Bates, Hanover College

Concurrent Sessions, RAC- Conference Room B, September 17

9:00 Remembering Does Entail Knowing
Speaker: Andrew Moon, University of Missouri
Chair: Lisa Cagle, Washington University
Commentator: Zack Robinson, UMSL

10:00 Fallibilism and the Flexibility of Epistemic Modals
Speaker: Charity Anderson, St. Louis University
Chair: Amy Broadway, UMSL
Commentator: Andrew Moon, University of Missouri

11:00 Skepticism in the Problem of the Criterion
Speaker: Brendan Murday, Ithaca College
Chair: Mark Steen, UMSL
Commentator: Casey Swank, St. Cloud State University

12:00 Lunch

1:00 A Textualist Argument for a Living Constitution
Speaker: A. J. Kreider, Miami Dade College
Chair: Xiaofei Liu, University of Missouri
Commentator: John Collins, East Carolina University

2:00 Republican Political Justification and Unreasonable Citizens
Speaker: Christopher McCammon, University of Nebraska – Lincoln/Grand View College
Chair: Christian Richeson, UMSL
Commentator: Richard Lauer, University of Missouri

3:00 The Connection between Political Legitimacy and Justification
Speaker: Leo Yan, University of Missouri
Chair: Daniel Pilchman, UC Irvine
Commentator: Christopher McCammon, University of Nebraska – Lincoln/Grand View College

4:00 Panel: Risk
Speakers: Ashton T. Sperry-Taylor, Bounded Rationality, Risk, and Moral Heuristics, University of Missouri
Michael Neal, Epistemic Risk, Epistemic Peerage, and Rational Disagreement, UMSL
Chair: Kevin Lepore, UMSL

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Program for the 2011 Meeting of the Central States Philosophical Association in St. Louis

CSPA Program, Moonrise Hotel, St. Louis, September 15–17

Plenary Sessions

September 15

5:00 Keynote Address: John Doris, Washington University
Chair: Berit Brogaard, UMSL

September 16

4:00 Business Meeting and Presidential Address: Berit Brogaard,
“Intellectual Flourishing as the Fundamental Epistemic Norm”
Chair: Paul Weirich, University of Missouri

5:00-7:00 Reception, Moonrise Rooftop


September 17

5:00 Keynote Address: John Hawthorne, University of Oxford
Chair: Berit Brogaard, UMSL


Concurrent Sessions, Room 1, September 15
9:00 An Impasse over Epistemic Value - A Critique of Linda Zagzebski's Arguments Against Pure Reliabilism and Proper Functionalism
Speaker: Devon Bryson, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Chair: John Greco, St. Louis University
Commentator: Andrew Spear, Grand Valley State University

10:00 The Value of Knowledge: A Primary Good
Speaker: Daniel Pilchman, University of California, Irvine
Chair: Heather Werner, UMSL
Commentator: Kristian Marlow, UMSL

11:00 Knowing Versus Knowledge - The Two Questions within the Secondary Value Problem
Speaker: Zack Robinson, UMSL
Chair: Brendan Murday, Ithaca College
Commentator: Trent Dougherty, Baylor University

12:00 Lunch

1:00 Neo-Aristotelian Plenitude
Speaker: Ross Inman, Trinity College, Dublin
Chair: John Heil, Washington University
Commentator: Irem Kurtsal Steen, UMSL

2:00 Functions Must be Performed at Appropriate Rates in Appropriate Situations
Speaker: Gualtiero Piccinini, UMSL, and Justin Garson, Hunter College/City University of New York
Chair: Lynn Chien-Hui Chiu, University of Missouri
Commentator: Eric Kraemer, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

3:00 Special Science Kinds - Property Clusters without Homeostasis
Speaker: Bernhard Nickel, Harvard University
Chair: Sarah Robins, Washington University
Commentator: Christopher Pearson, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

4:00 Panel: Natural Kinds
Speakers: Daniel A. Weiskopf, The Human Stain - Concepts, Anthropic Kinds, and Realism, Georgia State University
Andrew McFarland, How are Kinds Individuated?, University of Kansas
Alexander Bird, The Ontology of Natural Kinds, University of Bristol
John Camacho, Natural Kinds and Scientific Practices, UMSL
Chair: Kent Staley, St. Louis University

Concurrent Sessions, Room 2, September 15
9:00 Frankfurt Cases, Gettier, and the Principle of Alternative Possibilities
Speaker: Adam R. Thompson, University of Nebraska – Lincoln
Chair: Krista Hyde, UMSL
Commentator: Michael Neal, UMSL

10:00 Against Counterfactuals of Libertarian Freedom - There is Nothing I Would have Done if I Could Have Done Otherwise
Speaker: Paul C. Anders, Mount Marty College, and Joshua Thurow, College of Southern Nevada
Chair: Seth Kurtenbach, University of Missouri
Commentator: Grant Sterling, Eastern Illinois University

11:00 Are There True Libertarian Action Counterfactuals?
Speaker: Daniel Rubio, Western Michigan University
Chair: Krista Wiley, UMSL
Commentator: David Killoren, University of Wisconsin – Madison

12:00 Lunch
1:00 Compositional Nihilism and the Puzzles of Coincidence: A Response to McGrath
Speaker: Holly Kantin, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Chair: Leigh C. Vicens, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Commentator: Andrew McFarland, University of Kansas

2:00 Physical Causal Closure and Non-Coincidental Mental Causation
Speaker: Leigh C. Vicens, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Chair: Andrew Melnyk, University of Missouri
Commentator: Eric Douglas Hiddleston, Wayne State University

3:00 Hume, Counterfactuals and Causation
Speaker: Joshua Anderson, St. Louis University
Chair: Dean Obermark, UMSL
Commentator: John Camacho, UMSL

4:00 Panel: Causation
Speakers: David Killoren, Moral Causation, Consequentialism, and the Hazards of Pure Metaethics, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Hannah Abigail Bondurant, Consciousness, Control, and Causation: Some Issues for the Cognitive Physicalist, UMSL
Nicholas K. Simmons, How Much Bearing Does the Correct Construal of 'Causation' Really Have on the Problem of Mental Causation?, University of Kansas
Andrew Ward, Causal Criteria, Inference to the Best Explanation, and Causal Inferences, University of Minnesota
Chair: Simine Vazire, Washington University


Concurrent Sessions, Room 1, September 16
9:00 Rawls on Rectification
Speaker: Sarah Kenehan, Marywood University
Chair: Eric Wilcox, University of Missouri – Kansas City
Commentator: Marcus Arvan, University of Tampa

10:00 Individual Rights and the Restrictive Force of Just Cause - A Response to Jeff McMahan
Speaker: Crystal Allen, University of Missouri
Chair: Bre'Anna Liddell, UMSL
Commentator: Eric Reitan, Oklahoma State University

11:00 Killing in Self-Defense and the Doctrine of Double Effect
Speaker: Phil M. Mouch, Minnesota State University Moorhead
Chair: David McGraw, UMSL
Commentator: Crystal Allen, University of Missouri

12:00 Lunch

1:00 From Insensitivity to Moral Debunking
Speaker: Matthew Braddock, Duke University
Chair: Dan Haybron, St. Louis University
Commentator: Brian Besong, Purdue University

2:00 Moral Perpendiculars
Speaker: Hallie Liberto, University of Connecticut
Chair: Holly Kantin, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Commentator: Molly Gardner, University of Wisconsin

3:00 Moral Intuitionism and Fundamental Disagreement
Speaker: Brian Besong, Purdue University
Chair: Mylan Engel, Jr., Northern Illinois University
Commentator: Brian Hutchinson, Metropolitan State College of Denver


Concurrent Sessions, Room 2, September 16
9:00 Solving the Generality Problem for Reliabilism and Resolving the Internalist/Externalist Controversy
Speaker: Mylan Engel Jr., Northern Illinois University
Chair: Matthew Cashen, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Commentator: Matthew Braddock, Duke University

10:00 Against the Minimalistic Reading of Epistemic Contextualism - A Reply to Wolfgang Freitag
Speaker: Michael D. Ashfield, Northern Illinois University
Chair: Jeff Dauer, Washington University
Commentator: Geoff Pynn, Northern Illinois University

11:00 Knowledge, Assertion, and the Belief that One Knows
Speaker: Dylan Black, Indiana University – Bloomington
Chair: Michael D. Ashfield, Northern Illinois University
Commentator: Brendan Murday, Ithaca College

12:00 Lunch

1:00 Options and Epistemic Modals
Speaker: Tomis Kapitan, Northern Illinois University
Chair: Roy Sorensen, Washington University
Commentator: Wenwen Fan, University of Missouri

2:00 Epistemic Modals and Practical Reasoning
Speaker: Joshua S. Heter, St. Louis University
Chair: Andrew Spear, Grand Valley State University
Commentator: Lisa Cagle, Washington University

3:00 Determining the Field of Concern with Knowledge
Speaker: Seth Kurtenbach, University of Missouri
Chair: Jessica Wilson, UMSL
Commentator: John Pauley, Simpson College

Concurrent Sessions, Room 1, September 17
9:00 On Hawthorne on Lewis on the Case for Modal Realism
Speaker: Robert William Fischer, University of Illinois at Chicago
Chair: Thomas Sattig, Washington University
Commentator: John Gabriel, Washington University

10:00 Cappelen, Content Relativism, and the “Creative Interpreter”
Speaker: Mark Criley, Illinois Wesleyan University
Chair: Nicholas Baima, Washington University
Commentator: Ronald Loeffler, Grand Valley State University

11:00 A Prosententialist Account of Vagueness
Speaker: Renee Jorgensen, Northern Illinois University
Chair: Ronald Glass, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Commentator: Nicholas Baima, Washington University

12:00 Lunch

1:00 A Simple Proof of Mind-Body Dualism
Speaker: Marcus Arvan, University of Tampa
Chair: Ronald Loeffler, Grand Valley State University
Commentator: Daniel Ryan, UMSL

2:00 The Fact of Cartesian Qualia
Speaker: Brett Coppenger, University of Iowa
Chair: William Robinson, Iowa State University
Commentator: Donald Sievert, University of Missouri

3:00 The (One and Only) Argument for Physicalism about the Mind
Speaker: Jared Bates, Hanover College
Chair: Marcus Arvan, University of Tampa
Commentator: Angie Harris, University of Utah

4:00 Panel: Physicalism
Speakers: William S. Robinson, The Poverty of Physicalism, Iowa State University
Andrew Melnyk, Pereboom on the Formulation of Non-reductive Physicalism, University of Missouri
Eric Kraemer, The Challenges of Non-Physicalism, University of Wisconsin – La Crosse
Chair: Jared Bates, Hanover College

Concurrent Sessions, Room 2, September 17
9:00 Remembering Does Entail Knowing
Speaker: Andrew Moon
Chair: Lisa Cagle, Washington University
Commentator: Zack Robinson, UMSL

10:00 Fallibilism and the Flexibility of Epistemic Modals
Speaker: Charity Anderson, St. Louis University
Chair: Amy Broadway, UMSL
Commentator: Andrew Moon, University of Missouri

11:00 Skepticism in the Problem of the Criterion
Speaker: Brendan Murday, Ithaca College
Chair: Mark Steen, UMSL
Commentator: Casey Swank, St. Cloud State University

12:00 Lunch

1:00 A Textualist Argument for a Living Constitution
Speaker: A. J. Kreider, Miami Dade College
Chair: Xiaofei Liu, University of Missouri
Commentator: John Collins, East Carolina University

2:00 Republican Political Justification and Unreasonable Citizens
Speaker: Christopher McCammon, University of Nebraska – Lincoln/Grand View College
Chair: Christian Richeson, UMSL
Commentator: Richard Lauer, University of Missouri

3:00 The Connection between Political Legitimacy and Justification
Speaker: Leo Yan, University of Missouri
Chair: Daniel Pilchman, UC Irvine
Commentator: Christopher McCammon, University of Nebraska – Lincoln/Grand View College

4:00 Panel: Risk
Speakers: Ashton T. Sperry-Taylor, Bounded Rationality, Risk, and Moral Heuristics, University of Missouri
Michael Neal, Epistemic Risk, Epistemic Peerage, and Rational Disagreement, UMSL
Chair: Kevin Lepore, UMSL

Monday, July 18, 2011

Knowledge-How: A Unified Account

I just received the proofs for my article "Knowledge-How: A Unified Account." Here is the link, if you're interested. And the abstract:

There are two competing views of knowledge-how: intellectualism and anti-intellectualism. According to the reductionist varieties of intellectualism defended by Jason Stanley and Timothy Williamson (2001) and Berit Brogaard (2007), knowledge-how simply reduces to knowledge-that. To a first approximation, s knows how to A iff there is a w such that s knows that w is a way to A. For example, John knows how to ride a bicycle if and only if there is a way w such that John knows that w is a way to ride a bicycle. John Bengson and Marc Moffett (2007) defend an antireductionist version of intellectualism that takes knowledge-how to require, in addition to a propositional attitude, that s understands the concepts involved in her attitude. According to the anti-intellectualist accounts originally defended by Gilbert Ryle and many others after him, knowledge-how requires the possession of a practical ability and so knowing that w (for some w) is a way to A does not suffice for knowing-how. For example, John knows how to ride a bicycle only if John has the ability to ride it; if John merely knows that w (for some w) is a way to ride a bicycle, John does not know how to ride a bicycle. Here I argue for a conciliatory position that is compatible with the reductionist variety of intellectualism: knowledge-how is reducible to knowledge-that. But, I argue, there are knowledge states that are not justification entailing and knowledge states that are not belief entailing. Both kinds of knowledge state require the possession of practical abilities. I conclude by arguing that the view defended naturally leads to a disjunctive conception of abilities as either essentially involving mental states or as not essentially involving mental states. Only the former kind of ability is a kind of knowledge-state, that is, a knowledge-how state.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

More or Less: Varieties of Human Cortical Colour Vision

The schedules/programs are now up for the Vancouver conference on cortical color.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Surprising News: UMSL's research faculty ranks in top 10 in the US

This is for "scholarly production among universities with less than 15 doctoral programs". The link is here.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Lemming's Birthday and a New Version of My Presentism Paper

Happy belated birthday to Lemmings. He turned 5 two days ago. In case you are interested, I have uploaded a new version of my new presentism paper, "Presentism, Primitivism and Cross-Temporal Relations: Lessons from Holistic Ersatzism and
Dynamic Semantics", to my website.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Meaning and Value: How Do They Relate?

A further question that came up in my summer existentialism class was that of what exactly the existentialists are so worried about. What is the ambiguity or dilemma De Beauvoir and others keep talking about?

It may be tempting to answer like this: We all have to die, and death is a scary thing. So, how do we deal with that fear?

However, that answer is far too simple. The dilemma in life turns on value. Most people live a life that is aimed at the future. For example, you go to college in order to increase your chances of getting a good job. Almost everything you do is aimed at something in the future. So, almost everything you do is valuable because it leads to something else. What you do appears to have instrumental value.

On non-existentialist accounts, if your life has meaning, then that meaning is derived from the instrumental value of your actions. But if there is no final destination, which there is not if death is inevitable, then your actions have no instrumental value and hence your life has no meaning.

In class I used an analogy to illustrate this. Suppose you hate driving but are willing to make the trip to Chicago, because being in Chicago has intrinsic value. As it turns out, however, there is no Chicago. It was burned down or was just a fantasy city people thought was real. We can then rightfully say that your trip was meaningless.

Things are different if Chicago exists and you just never make it there because you make a wrong turn and end up in Detroit or die in a car crash. Your trip then had a bad ending but it wasn’t meaningless.

If Chicago doesn’t exist but Detroit does, then your trip needn’t be meaningless, because it can still be aimed at not ending up in Detroit. So, your actions then have instrumental value and your life has meaning derived from the instrumental value of your actions.

Here is how the analogy carries over to the meaning of life. If there is no heaven or hell after death, but sheer nothingness, then your actions in life have no instrumental value. Hence, if meaning is derived from the instrumental value of your actions, your life is meaningless.

The existentialist puzzle does not arise for the theist who posits life after death. Heaven has intrinsic value, and your actions in life are aimed at ending up in heaven. So, your life has meaning derived from the instrumental value of your actions.

But few existentialists are theists. This is why they are in despair. De Beauvoir considers other possible ways of resolving the predicament. Hegel suggested that the Spirit (with a capital S) was greater than mankind and hence greater than you and your life. You might also think mankind, nature or society is greater than you and your life.

If this is true, then it seems that we can resolve the predicament in a way similar to the theists: You simply live your life serving the Spirit, mankind, nature, society, or what have you. If these greater entities have intrinsic value, and your actions are aimed at serving these entities, then your actions have instrumental value. So, if the meaning of life is derived from the instrumental value of your actions, then your life is meaningful. Or so it may seem.

The problem, though, is that if your life is aimed at something that is greater than you, or goes beyond you and your life, then even if your actions have instrumental value, your life can still be meaningless. This is because the Spirit, mankind, nature, society or whatever has nothing to do with your life per se, and we cannot derive the meaning of YOUR life from something that has nothing to do with your life.

The theists are in fact better off in this respect. They posit "life after death" or "eternal life". So, your life doesn’t end. On some theist views, your body ceases to exist but your soul continues. On other views, your body ceases to exist temporarily but will arise again when God introduces heaven on earth. Either way, if there is a heaven, we can say that your life has meaning derived from the instrumental value of your actions – actions aimed at getting you to heaven.

But this is not an option for atheists. De Beauvoir and most of the other existentialists are atheists, so they cannot resolve the puzzle the way the theists can. The solution they propose is to derive meaning from the intrinsic value of your choices rather than from the alleged instrumental value of your actions.

Your choices, however, can only have intrinsic value if you are the true agent in making the choice. If your choice is heavily influenced by upbringing, tradition, culture, authorities, a desire to do well or be famous, etc, then your choice doesn’t have any intrinsic value.

Existentialists don’t recommend that you go against any of these institutions but only that you question your choices and make your own choices. The choices must be choices you make for your own sake and not for the sake of others.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Does Existentialism Entail Ethical Relativism?

One of the questions we discussed in my summer existentialism class was that of whether existentialism, as laid out by Simone De Beauvoir, entails ethical relativism. My argument for the conclusion that it does went it as follows:

According to De Beauvoir, you should choose to be free. This means that what you should do depends on what has meaning for you. You should not do what tradition, authorities, caregivers, peers or culture dictate but rather what can add to the meaning of your life. Of course, this does not mean that because your parents told you to go to college, you should not go to college, but only that if you decide to go to college, it should be because it adds to the personal meaning of your life.

Now, "should", familiarly, comes in many different flavors. In "You should stop for red light", the "should" is a legal (and perhaps a prudential) "should". In "You should aim at maximizing true beliefs and minimizing false ones", the "should" is an epistemic "should". And in "You should wear a condom during sex" the "should" is a prudential "should", and so on.

"Should" in these senses can be overridden. For example, if you are taking a dying friend to the hospital, it needn’t be the case that you should stop for red light. If maximizing true beliefs and minimizing false ones implies sitting in your backyard counting leaves rather than going to class, you should go to class, not maximize true beliefs and minimize false ones. And if you are trying to conceive a child, you shouldn't wear a condom during sex.

These sorts of considerations count against there being a special ethical "should" alongside the legal, prudential and epistemic "should"s. For suppose otherwise. Then it could be that, ethically, you should speak the truth. But we all know that the "should" in this case can be overridden. If the Nazis are banging on your door, asking you whether you know the whereabouts of your friend, you should not tell them, even if you know. In this case, then, it cannot be that, ethically, you should tell the truth. We can conjure up similar scenarios for other things you might think you should do, ethically speaking.

The lesson: Practical reason, and hence ethics, concerns what you should do all things considered. So, you should tell the truth in some situations but not in others. If there is an ethical "should", it’s the all-things-considered "should", and the all-things-considered "should" cannot be overridden.

Return now to the existentialist "should". De Beauvoir intends this modality to be an all-things-considered "should". In other words, she does not take it that you should do what adds to the meaning of your life only in some circumstances. She holds that you should always do what adds to the meaning of your life.

But we cannot have two all-things-considered "should"s. So, if existentialism is true, then the existentialist "should" is the only all-things-considered “should” around.

This then straightforwardly leads us to ethical relativism of a rather extreme kind. If it adds to the meaning of your life to kill the kind 90-year old lady next door who brings you delicious baked goods every Sunday morning, then you should kill her all things considered. You get the idea.

What can the existentialist say in response to this?

She could bite the bullet. But that just feels wrong (to me anyway).

Alternatively, she could argue that these kinds of issues don’t arise. This seems to be what De Beauvoir is getting at on p. 23 of The Ethics of Ambiguity. Here she says that we will eventually reason toward certain universal principles. As rational individuals, we won’t kill to add meaning to our lives, for instance.

The problem, though, is this: What are we to say about people who are too rational, such as serial killers, and people who are too emotional or who are plainly stupid?

Perhaps the existentialist could say that you have to possess a certain level of rationality and emotional sophistication to be able to define your own meaning. But the question then remains why people who are not sufficiently rational or who do not have the right level of emotional sophistication are left to lead a meaningless life.

Summer Existentialism Class 2011

If you were unable to attend our meetings discussing Simone De Beauvoir's The Ethics of Ambiguity and The Second Sex, you can listen to the mp3 files here, either by clicking the play buttons directly on this site or by clicking the links located on top of each window:

Discussion of the Ethics of Ambiguity



Discussion of the Second Sex

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Googling Paper Titles

[From comment section]

Anonymous: I wonder if you have any views about whether authors ought to bring it to journal editors' attention if they discover a referee has googled passages from their paper in an attempt to uncover the author's identity? I don't think this issue has been brought up in discussions of refereeing, but it is a practice I think should definitely stop and making a bit of noise when it happens is perhaps one way to for that to happen. If I were an editor I would certainly want to know if my referees were breaking blind review practice, but I imagine some editors might not be very concerned about this practice and that it may bias them against the author if the latter were to make a stink to them about it.

Me: There is no surefire way to find out if a referee Googled the paper title or passages from the paper to establish the author's identity.

If a referee were to write "since the author is only a graduate student... " in his report, I would be suspicious. But referees don't usually say these kinds of things.

You can protect yourself against this practice by keeping your paper off your website or by re-naming it until it's accepted for publication.

But as you say, referees might Google passages rather than titles, and renaming the paper doesn't protect against that.

In my opinion, the best thing a young author can do is to upload their paper to Google Docs. This allows them to control the share settings. There is a setting that allows people with the link to view the paper but the paper won't show up in Google searches.

This is not a guarantee that a reviewer won't find the paper but at least it wouldn't show up in a Google search, and people who want to check out your website can still use the link on your page to get to the paper.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The 2011 Meeting of the Central States Philosophical Association

The 2011 Meeting of the Central States Philosophical Association will take place September 15-17 at The Moonrise Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri. The cut-off date for reserving a room at the group rate is August 14, 2011. The cost for the hotel rooms at the Moonrise Hotel are $139 or $149 (the latter is an extra large room for sharing). To get that rate you should mention that you are booking a room for the Central States Philosophical Association Conference. Make your reservations early as they only have 75 rooms at the conference rate.

The hotel has a rooftop bar, where we will socialize at night. The hotel is in one of the most active areas of St. Louis called "the University City Loop" or just the "The Loop" for short. There are dozens of restaurants and bars within walking distance, including Pi, the pizza restaurant where President Obama dined when he was in St. Louis. The conference rooms are across the street from the hotel.

Cheaper accommodation is available here. Rates Starting at $39.99.
www.motel6.com/Missouri
1405 Dunn Road, St Louis, MO
(314) 869-9400

This place will work great if you have a car. If you are looking for cheaper accommodation, you can also go to: http://www.hotels.com/.

You can take the metro link directly from Lambert-St. Louis International Airport (STL) to University City, where the Moonrise Hotel is located. A taxi from the airport to the hotel will cost you between $30 and $40.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Central States Philosophical Association (CSPA) 2011. Second Call for Panel Proposals

The 2011 Central States Philosophical Association meeting, hosted by the University of Missouri–St. Louis, will take place at:

The Moonrise Hotel, 6177 Delmar, St. Louis, MO 63112
September 15–17, 2011

Keynote Speakers: John Hawthorne (University of Oxford) and John Doris (Washington University)

You need not be a member of an institution in the central states area to participate. The deadline for submission of colloquium papers has passed, however, the program committee still welcomes panel proposals and extends the deadline for them to June 30. During a panel's session, the panelists will make five-minute presentations on the panel's topic. After these presentations, there will be a discussion period. The whole session, presentations and discussion, will last an hour.

The program will include panels on these topics:
(1) Metaphysics: Natural kinds
(2) Mind: Physicalism vs. non-physicalism
(3) Causation
(4) Risk

To join a panel, submit a brief proposal of not more than 500 words that advances a point about the panel’s topic. Include a title page in a separate document with author information and the proposal’s word count, and submit both the proposal, prepared for blind reviewing, and the title page as RTF or PDF files.

The deadline for submission of panel proposals is: June 30, 2011.

Submissions should be sent to Leo Yan at: lhybnd@mail.mizzou.edu. Responses to submissions will be sent by July 31, 2011.

Suggestions for commentators and session chairs (including self-nominations) are welcome. Information about registration will be sent in July.

Suggestions and questions regarding the program should be directed to Paul Weirich at: weirichp@missouri.edu

Questions concerning local arrangements should be directed to Brit Brogaard at: brogaardb@gmail.com

Monday, May 09, 2011

The Synnie Gang from Toward a Science of Consciousness in Stockholm, 2011


Group picture of the synesthesia geeks from Toward a Science of Consciousness in Stockholm, 2011. Back: Michael Sollberger, Engelbert Winkler, Dirk Proekl (hiding). Second row: Patricia Lynne Duffy, Jason Padgett, Berit Brogaard, Carrie C. Firman. Third row: Alexandra Kirschner, Nancy Clark. Front: Neil Theise, William C. Bushell, Maureen Seaberg. Thanks, Maureen, for organizing the workshop.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Superhuman Mind

I am in beautiful Stockholm at the Toward a Science of Consciousness. Our session on Tuesday will take place in the fabulous Aula Magna Hall (see picture). Stop by if you are in the neighborhood. Danish National Radio will also broadcast a feature on this. Here is the title and abstract of my talk (for slides, click here). This is also the title of my next (academic) book.

The Superhuman Mind: From Synesthesia to Savant Syndrome

Savant syndrome is a condition in which a person has a talent that is so developed that he can perform what may seem like impossible mathematical, linguistic or artistic tasks. Blind Tom, a blind autistic slave in Georgia in the nineteenth century, was an amazing pianist and performer. Stephen Wiltshire drew an extremely accurate sketch of a four square mile section of London, including twelve major landmarks and two hundred other buildings after a twelve minute helicopter ride through the area. For any date you pick, the "human computers" Kay and Fro can report what they had for dinner, what they did on that day, what weekday it was, what their favorite TV-host wore on that day, and so on. Oliver Sack's autistic twins John and Michael computed prime numbers with more than 6 digits. The real rain man Kim Peeks was a living encyclopedia. There is currently no widely accepted explanation of the superhuman abilities of savants. What we do know is that most of them are synesthetes or autists and have left-brain injuries and particularly well-developed right-brain areas. Neurobiologist Stanislas Dehaene has proposed that savant synesthetes don't really differ that much from the rest of us. He claims that what distinguishes a mathematical genius from a normal person is an obsession with numbers and lots and lots of training. I provide empirical evidence against this hypothesis and offer a new theory of how savant synesthetes manage to complete ostensively impossible tasks.

Sartre and de Beauvoir Course

I am teaching a cross-listed undergrad/grad Simone de Beauvoir and Sartre course this summer. The course is taught virtually and also includes some face-to-face meetings in August. Sign up now, if you are interested. The course numbers are: PHIL 4410 and 5410.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Monday, April 25, 2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Inception and Philosophy

Friday, April 01, 2011

Presentism and Cross-Temporal Relations

I just finished a first draft of a new paper on presentism and cross-temporal relations. If you have any comments, feel free to email them to me at brogaardb@gmail.com

Saturday, March 26, 2011

CFP: The 2011 Meeting of the Central States Philosophical Association


As tradition has it, the university of the President of the Central States Philosophical Association hosts the annual meetings. So, the 2011 meeting will take place in my current hometown St. Louis. Our excellent Vice President, Paul Weirich, Curators' Professor at University of Missouri, Columbia, has just issued the following call for papers:

Central States Philosophical Association (CSPA) 2011 Call for Papers

The 2011 Central States Philosophical Association meeting, hosted by the University of Missouri–St. Louis, will take place at:

The Moonrise Hotel, 6177 Delmar, St. Louis, MO 63112
September 15–17, 2011

Keynote Speakers: John Hawthorne (University of Oxford) and John Doris (Washington University)

You need not be a member of an institution in the central states area to participate. Colloquium papers in any area of philosophy are welcome. Submissions dealing with aspects of John Hawthorne's or John Doris’s work are encouraged. Papers are limited to 3,000 words. All submissions must include on the title page, author information, a word count for the paper, and an abstract (not longer than 150 words). The title page and the paper should be submitted as separate documents. No author-identifying references should appear in the paper. Both the title page and the paper should be submitted as RTF or PDF files.

The program will include panels on these topics:
(1) The value problem in epistemology
(2) Mind: Physicalism vs. non-physicalism
(3) Metaphysics: Natural kinds
(4) Intrinsic value
(5) Causation
(6) Risk

To join a panel, submit a brief proposal of no more than 500 words that advances a point about the panel’s topic. Include a title page in a separate document with author information and the proposal’s word count, and submit both the proposal, prepared for blind reviewing, and the title page as RTF or PDF files. Submitting a panel proposal in addition to colloquium paper is permissible, but at most one will be accepted.

The deadline for submissions is: May 31, 2011.

Submissions should be sent to Leo Yan at: lhybnd@mail.mizzou.edu. Responses to submissions will be sent by July 31, 2011.

Suggestions for commentators and sessions chairs (including self-nominations) are welcome. Information about the meeting’s banquet will be sent out in July.

Suggestions and questions regarding the program should be directed to Paul Weirich at: weirichp@missouri.edu

Questions concerning local arrangements should be directed to Brit Brogaard at: brogaardb@gmail.com

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Male-Only Volumes and a Confession

Brian Weatherson recently called attention to a debate about female representations in volumes and at conferences. Over at TAR, he writes:

Andy Egan and I have (very slowly) put together a collection of papers on epistemic modals and epistemic modality, and it is coming out with OUP this spring. The collection isn’t perfect; it should have come out ages ago, and contributor list is missing a certain something [i.e., female contributors], but we hope it’s a valuable addition to the literature. I’ll hopefully write more about this closer to publication, especially about what I wish I’d done differently along the way to publication.

Interesting discussion of these issues can be found here.

As I say in my reply to the blog post. I don't want to defend male-only volumes (of course). But, as I say there, in some cases, it is difficult to get women to contribute. On average, an Oxford M&E volume has only 10% contributors. I am not sure whether that reflects the number of women working in M&E. There are 20% women employed in US departments. But they don't all work in M&E. So, I am not sure whether 10% is good or bad. No-women volumes are clearly a bad thing. But the editor is not always to blame.

I also have a confession to make: I actually reviewed Egan and Weatherson's volume proposal for Oxford and regrettedly did not point out that there weren't any female contributors. A friend and former colleague of mine, who is currently employed by a top-university department, has made a habit out of pointing out to the publisher that a volume she is asked to referee should not be published if it does not have a reasonable number of female contributions. I will adhere to her stricter and higher ethical standards in the future.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Don't be Nervous When You Present Your Ideas. They are NOT You

This advice from Kai Von Fintel is gold. I particularly love this statement:

That work was written by a previous time slice of myself that I do not anymore have any privileged access to or even a strong emotional bond with.

I'll second that. Here is another so-true statement -- this time from Geoff Pullum. He offers a good reason why you shouldn't be nervous when you present your ideas. This is a (re-)quote from Kai's site.
REMEMBER THAT YOU’RE AN ADVOCATE, NOT THE DEFENDANT. It’s your idea that’s being presented, not you. The reason for not feeling nervous is that you are not what’s up for consideration... This isn’t about you

Agreed. No skin in the game!

Friday, February 11, 2011

More or Less: Varieties of Human Cortical Color Vision

Philosophers, neurophysiologists, psychologists and researchers within the cognitive sciences are warmly invited to attend the conference and to submit posters. The conference will be held at Simon Fraser University Harbour Center in Vancouver on August 5-7, 2011.

The focus of this conference is "colour beyond the retina", both the normal neurophysiology of human cortical colour mechanisms and a variety of cortical color 'anomalies', in particular:

* Cerebral Achromatopsia
* Color Synaesthesias
* Color Blindsight
* Cortical Color Development

Early career researchers and graduate students are invited to apply for a two day intensive workshop held prior to the conference. The workshop will take place on August 4-5, 2011.

Confirmed Speakers and Workshop Leaders Include

Morten Overgaard (Aarhus University)
Fred Kingdom (McGill University)
Qasim Zaidi (SUNY State College of Optometry)
Charles Heywood (Durham University)
Bob Kentridge (Durham University)
Michael Tye (University of Texas, Austin)
Austen Clark (UConn)
Jon Opie (University of Adelaide)
Berit Brogaard (University of Missouri at St. Louis)
Tony Ro (CUNY)
Dan Smilek (University of Waterloo)
Julia Simner (University of Edinburgh)
Kathy Mullen (McGill University)
Alex Byrne (MIT)
Roy Sorensen (Washington University, St. Louis)

For a complete list of confirmed speakers, click HERE.

This conference is funded by The James S. McDonnell Foundation.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

The Neuroscience of Inception

I just finished a popular article called "The Mad Neuroscience of Inception". It's available here.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Vision for Action and the Contents of Perception

I have now uploaded a copy of this paper on vision for action and the contents of perception to my website. The paper is forthcoming in Journal of Philosophy.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Call for Book Proposals: Studies in Brain and Mind

Studies in Brain and Mind is a Springer book series. It covers all areas in which philosophy and neuroscience intersect: philosophy of mind, philosophy of neuroscience, philosophy of psychology, philosophy of psychiatry, neurophilosophy, and neuroethics.

Under the previous editor, John Bickle, the series published several high quality books. The series is now being relaunched with a new Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Gualtiero Piccinini, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Psychology, and Editorial Board:

Berit Brogaard (UM St Louis)
Carl Craver (Wash U)
Eduoard Machery (Pitt)
Oron Shagrir (Hebrew University in Jerusalem)
Mark Sprevak (Edinburgh U)

The series aim to publish technical books for an academic audience of graduate students and up. The new editor and the board see the series as a great opportunity for the field, providing a venue for specialists as well as junior authors. Some high quality book projects are too specialized or their authors are too junior for other publishers. Studies in Mind and Brain fills this gap. The hope is to make Studies in Brain and Mind an excellent addition to the development of interdisciplinary research in philosophy and neuroscience.

Every book published in the series will be available simultaneously in print and as an e-book in SpringerLink. If a library has purchased the Springer e-book package, visitors of the library are able to download these PDF’s for free or order a paperback for Euro: 24.95 / USD 24,95.

The series aims for a high level of clarity, rigor, novelty, and scientific competence. Book proposals and complete manuscripts of 200 or more pages are welcome. Initial proposals can be sent to Gualtiero Piccinini at piccininig@umsl.edu.

For more information, see the Series website or contact Dr. Piccinini.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Virtue Epistemology and Other Spring 2011 Courses

I have had a few inquires about the courses I am teaching this semester. This is a re-posting of the list. I have added the virtue epistemology course description.

1. Sexual Ethics (Big lecture course, freshmen and sophomore, satisfies the GEN ED requirement and the humanities requirement, cross-listed with the gender studies program)

2. Virtue Epistemology (upper-level undergraduate and graduate course in philosophy)

3. Biological Bases of Behavior (graduate course in neuropsychology)

Course description for virtue epistemology:

Unlike other directions in epistemology, virtue epistemology takes epistemology to be a normative discipline. On this view, epistemology is a central component of value theory. The opposing position in epistemology is naturalized epistemology that proposes to abandon the classical project of analyzing knowledge and to look at how people actually reason and form beliefs and memories instead. The key concepts of virtue epistemology are the concepts of the intellectual role model and intellectual virtues. Epistemic norms, epistemic values and epistemic reasons are derivative concepts, typically defined in terms of the concepts of an intellectual role model or intellectual virtues. In this course we will evaluate a range of virtue-theoretical approaches to epistemic concepts. Our aim is to reach a level of expertise at which we can determine whether some form of virtue epistemology both can withstand all the classical challenges in epistemology and is empirically sound.

Graduate Admissions

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am now director of graduate studies and the chair of the admissions committee. So, if you have any questions about applying to the graduate program at UM-SL,feel free to send me an email: brogaardb@gmail.com.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Synesthesia and Savant Syndrome

Synesthesia is sometimes connected with special talents. For example, some people with synesthesia are excellent artists or good with numbers. Some have what is called 'savant syndrome'. Savant syndrome is often accompanied by autism but it can also be acquired after an accident or an assault or by (what seems to be) sheer coincidence. If you think you have a special talent that was not the result of years of training, or you think you have synesthesia and a special talent, you may qualify for our research project about synesthesia and savant syndrome. To find out if you qualify, take the survey linked to below, or send an email to: brogaardb@umsl.edu. You need not live in St. Louis to participate.

Click here to take the survey

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Call for Papers, Philosophy of Mind Graduate Conference

PHILOSOPHY OF MIND

6th Annual Gateway Graduate Conference, April 8-10, 2011

The Philosophers’ Forum at the University of Missouri, St. Louis invites submissions of high quality graduate student papers to our 6th annual Gateway conference. This year’s topic is Introspection, broadly construed. Possible areas relevant to this topic include philosophy of mind, cognitive science, philosophy of science, epistemology, ethics, and philosophy of religion.

Keynote Speaker:

Eric Schwitzgebel (UC-Riverside)

Extended Submission Deadline: March 1, 2011

Submission Guidelines:

Please prepare your paper for blind review by sending two separate attachments to 2011UMSLGRAD@GMAIL.COM:

First attachment, the cover letter:

author’s name
title of paper
institutional affiliation
contact information (email, phone number, mailing address)
word count
an abstract of the paper (less than 500 words)

Second attachment, the paper:

Suitable for a 25-30 minute presentation (less than 4,500 words, should not contain any personal information

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Report on Acquired Synesthesia and Savant Syndrome

I just finished an initial report on a case of acquired synesthesia and savant syndrome. The report is available here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Accidental Genius

Here is a follow-up news clip about a subject I work with, who has synesthesia and savant syndrome. The first news clip can be found here.
 

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Synesthesia Water Color

Alex Heim, a synesthete who also has migraine auras, just sent me this water color of one of his synesthetic auras. The second picture is the water color digitally superimposed on a picture to show how the colors are in front of his vision but not blocking it out. The second picture was also created by Alex Heim.