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| 2011 | 2012 | 2013 |
Friday, November 15, 5-7pm, TB (Anderson Hall) 130
TB 130 (Anderson Hall), 5-7pm
TB (Anderson Hall) 130
TB (Anderson Hall) 365
Ned has given us a manuscript which we can read ahead and discuss in a small meeting. Please email me for the document and RSVP: marksteen[At-symbol]gmail[Dot com].
5:15-7:15pm, TB (Anderson Hall) 130
If what is morally right or wrong were ultimately a function of our opinions, then even such reprehensible actions as genocide and slavery would be morally right, had we approved of them. Many moral philosophers find this conclusion objectionably permissive, and to avoid it they posit a moral reality that exists independently of what anyone thinks. The notion of an independent moral reality has been subjected to meticulous metaphysical, epistemological and semantic criticism, but it is hardly ever examined from a moral point of view. In this essay I offer such a critique. I argue that the appeal to an independent moral reality as a ground for moral obligations constitutes a substantive moral mistake. However, I do not conclude from this that we must therefore embrace the opposite view that moral truths are ultimately dependent on our attitudes. Rather, I suggest that we reject both of these views and answer the classic meta-ethical question “Is what we morally ought to do ultimately a function of our actual attitudes, or determined independently of them?” with Neither.
5-7pm, TB (Anderson Hall) 130
Professor Ivan Soll (Wisconsin-Madison) will give a talk at Bogazici University on Thursday 18/07/2013, in TB130 from 5-7pm. Everyone welcome.
“In Praise of Illusion.”
ABSTRACT: A wide ranging discussion of various attitudes to illusions, both perceptual and intellectual, in Descartes, the Empiricists, Kant, Schopenhauer, 20th century aesthetic theory, and Nietzsche, and including my own views about the matter.
“The Privilege of the Physical and Metaontology.”
"Kant, Forgiveness and Moral Optimism"
Liz Disley received her PhD from the University of Cambridge in 2009. Her main research interests lie in the area of 19th and 20th century German thought. Her PhD explored the concept of recognition in Hegel's philosophy, and she has also published on empathy and intersubjectivity in the work of Edmund Husserl. Her current research concerns conceptions of subjectivity in the work of Hegel and Husserl. She is the project manager and research associate for the Leverhulme/Newton Trust Project "The Impact of Idealism: the legacy of post-Kantian German thought".
There will be a half day workshop at Bogazici University this Tuesday from 1pm-5.30pm with Professor John Skorupski (St Andrews) in TB130,
Professor Skorupski will discuss a number of topics from his recent book The Domain of Reasons.
An overview. Background reading: A Precis of The Domain of Reasons, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 85 (1):174-184.
Reason and Feeling. Background reading: The Domain of Reasons, chapters 10-13. (These chapter are available in the departmental dropbox)
ABSTRACT: Throughout the 20th century it was a common idea in philosophy of language that for an expression to be meaningful is for it to be governed by a rule of use. For example, it was mentioned by Peter Strawson, David Kaplan, John Perry, and Scott Soames. However, nobody went past very general remarks in discussing it. Even worse, it came to be widely seen as inconsistent with “truth-conditional semantics” and subject to the so-called Frege-Geach problem. This led other philosophers to view the idea as vague and mystical, too radical and obviously problematic, and think of it as ultimately not really worth our time because of there being clear and tractable formal substitutes like characters. For example, here’s Jason Stanley’s summary assessment of it in his survey article “Philosophy of Language in the Twentieth Century” (my emphasis):
“Whereas the notion of a rule of use is vague and mystical, Kaplan’s notion of the character of an expression is not only clear, but set theoretically explicable in terms of fundamental semantic notions. (Stanley 2008)”
My aim in this paper is to take this idea and first make it precise and demystify it. I then want to show that it’s consistent with “truth-conditional semantics” and thus not radical and that it’s not subject to the Frege-Geach problem and thus not obviously problematic. Finally, I will argue that it is very much worth our time because it can explainwhy doing descriptive semantics in terms of characters works in the first place, and because it enables us to provide a semantics for expressions which we can’t give one in terms of characters.
Jesse Prinz (CUNY- Graduate Centre) will give a talk on Wednesday 05/06/2013 at Bogazici (Room TB130) from 5-7pm on:
"Neo-Empiricism: Grounding Concepts in Perception"
Jesse J. Prinz is a Distinguished Professor of philosophy and director of the Committee for Interdisciplinary Science Studies at theCity University of New York, Graduate Center. He took his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago under the direction of Murat Aydede. His books include: Furnishing the Mind: Concepts and Their Perceptual Basis (MIT: 2002), Gut Reactions: A Perceptual Theory of Emotion (OUP: 2004), The Emotional Construction of Morals (OUP: 2007), Beyond Human Nature (Penguin/Norton: 2012).
"Imagination: Roots and Reasons."
"BUTLER AND HEIDEGGER: ON THE RELATION BETWEEN FREEDOM AND MARGINALIZATION"
ABSTRACT: The names of Judith Butler and Martin Heidegger rarely come together in Butler and Heidegger scholarship. As a matter of fact, the basis for the lack of a dialogical exchange between Butlerian and Heideggerian scholars is straightforward. After all, it seems prima facie that there is an unbridgeable gap between Butler’s and Heidegger’s philosophical and political stances. For example, while Butler is a social constructivist, Heidegger, at least in Being and Time, interrogates the universal structures of human existence. While Butler is a radical democrat, Heidegger supported National Socialism whole-heartedly in the years of 1933 and 1934 and, even in his last interview in 1966, stated that “I am not convinced that it is democracy” that can solve the shortcomings of modernity. Be that as it may, I believe, the critical encounter between Butler and Heidegger might be philosophically/politically promising—especially for inquiring into the relationship between freedom and marginalization. My aim in this paper is to re-appropriate Butler’s philosophy from the perspective of the Heidegger of Being and Time. That is, I will read Butler with the aid of Heideggerian concepts such as “Being-in-the-world,” “Being-towards-death,” “(in)authenticity,” “anxiety,” “guilt,” “authentic solicitude.” Due to this reading, I will claim that one’s freedom is dependent on the resuscitation of socially-murdered racial, sexual, ethnic, religious, and sectarian/confessional minorities. More specifically, I will claim that the socially-sanctioned subject’s freedom is dependent on the marginalized Other’s freedom, and, conversely, the marginalized Other’s freedom is dependent on the socially-sanctioned subject’s freedom.
"Honneth's Recognition-based Theory and the Recognition of Islamic Identity"
Dr. Sadek received his phd in philosophy from Georgetown University and is currently a Post-Doc at the American University of Beirut.
"Pragmatic Naturalism and Moral Objectivity"
Tuesday, TB130, 5-7pm.
ABSTRACT: In Kitcher’s “pragmatic naturalism” moral evolution contains only pragmatically motivated moral changes in response to practical difficulties in social life. No moral truths or facts exist that could serve as an “external” measure for moral progress. We propose a psychologically realistic conception of moral objectivity consistent with this pragmatic naturalism yet alive to the familiar sense that moral progress has an objective basis that transcends convention and consensus in moral opinion, even when these are products of serious, extended, and collaborative reflection.
Thursday, TB130, 5-7pm.
“Religion and Politics in Aquinas.”
Friday, 5-7pm, TB130
28.03.2013 - 29.03.2013
Details Can be found here.
"Arthur Danto's Andy Warhol: The Embodiment Theory in Art and the Pragmatic Turn"
ABSTRACT: Arthur Danto’s most recent book, Andy Warhol, leads the reader through the story of the iconic American’s artistic life highlighted by a philosophical commentary, a commentary that merges Danto’s aesthetic theory with the artist’s own narrative. Inspired by Warhol’s Brillo Box installation, art that in Danto’s eyes was indiscernible from the everyday boxes it represented, Danto developed a theory that is able to differentiate art from non-art by employing the body of conceptual art theory manifest in what he termed the ‘artworld’. The strength of Danto’s theory is found in its ability to explain the art of the post-modern era. His body of work weaves philosophy, art history and art criticism together, merging his aesthetic philosophy with his extensive knowledge of the world of art. Danto’s essentialist theory of embodied meaning provides him with a critical tool that succeeds in explaining the currents of contemporary art, a task that many great thinkers of art history were unable to do. If Warhol inspired Danto to create a philosophy of art, it is appropriate that Danto write a tribute to Warhol that traces how Warhol brought philosophy into art. Danto’s account of ‘Warhol as philosopher’ positions him as a pivotal figure in the history of twentieth-century art, effecting a sea change in how art was made and viewed. Warhol achieved this by conceiving of works that embodied the answers to a series of philosophical puzzles surrounding the nature of art.
Warhol had transformed himself, in a way, into an icon of the times. Because of this, Danto sees Warhol as manifest in his art. The pragmatist notion that art should undermine the dichotomies that exist between art and life would, by some accounts, position Warhol to be the philosopher that Danto claims him to be, for he dissolved the philosophical questions posted by late modern aesthetic thinkers by creating art that imploded the accepted notions of art at the time. One of Danto’s greatest contributions to aesthetics is his theory’s ability to distinguish art from non-art, recognizing that it is the artist’s intention that levels the sublimity of art into the commonplace, thereby transfiguring the everyday. However, while acknowledging this achievement, I argue that Warhol’s philosophical contribution actually manifests itself in a manner different from that proposed by Danto. Danto maintains that the internal drive of art leads to the unfolding of art theoretical concepts that ineluctably shift the terrain of the world of art. I agree with Danto that Warhol, almost as Hegel viewed Napoleon as Geist on a horse, pushed forward the boundaries of art through the actualization of art’s internal drive. However, I disagree that the conceptual nature of art is one that unfolds merely as a relation of concepts that artists connect to the meaning of history using their unmediated grasp of style. Rather, I would argue that the artist’s style is not narrowly bound to the meanings of history. Through their aesthetic articulations, artists initiate a process of social interaction. This process employs the philosophical logic that Danto attributes to Warhol indirectly, and through it, it is able to transfigure the vocabulary of art—the concepts of the artworld—by superseding the language of modernism. Warhol’s philosophical contribution is seen in his mastery of both the medium of art and the underlying logic of the medium’s expression and reception.
In this essay, after exploring the gains Danto’s account of embodied meaning and the artworld have brought to aesthetic philosophy, I will discuss Warhol’s art in terms of Danto’s theory. On some levels it seems like the perfect match of an aesthetic theory and an artistic practice. However, I will argue that Warhol’s ‘philosophical’ activity is described better in terms of pragmatist theory, putting his activity at odds with Danto’s ‘appropriation’ of Warhol for his essentialist theory. To conclude, I will suggest a way that the pragmatic turn taken by some members of the second generation of critical theorists, such as Jürgen Habermas, Karl-Otto Apel and Thomas McCarthy, could provide an example for how to integrate rationally, or in Danto’s case essentially, oriented theories into practical activities.
"Kant’s Aesthetic Judgement as non-aesthetic Knowledge"
ABSTRACT: One of the most interesting aspects of Baumgarten’s project of aesthetics as the younger sister of logic lies in a sort of “heterogenesis of ends” to be ascertained in its later reprises. Later philosophers who implicitly or explicitly referred to it incurred in productive misunderstandings, as they developed the original project in directions having little or nothing to do with it. Nonetheless these developments brought forward with surprising outcomes the idea of the aesthetic knowledge as a mediation between sensibility and intellect or reason. My presentation will focus on Kant’s understanding of the aesthetic judgement, taken in its non-aesthetic relevance, but rather as the paradigmatic site of free intersubjective consent. Unlike similar discussions of this issue (like the one by Hannah Arendt), however, I will not claim an objective relevance of the aesthetic judgement for the practical-political sphere. Rather, I will show that the Kantian aesthetic judgement does not so much lay the ground for aesthetics as a specific philosophical discipline, but rather for a new understanding of subjectivity and of knowledge that will find its fully developed actualisation in Hegel’s philosophy.
"Knowledge as a Team Sport"
Friday, 5-7pm, TB130
ABSTRACT: Virtue epistemology and credit theories of knowledge think about knowledge as a kind of achievement. Knowing is achieving a true belief through cognitive excellence or, at least, through reliable faculties. Virtue epistemology has a lot of strengths to recommend it, especially its account of the normativity and the value of knowledge. Many, however, consider it to be a non-starter because of a growing list of problems some of the most well known of which concern testimony, that is, coming to believe things on the say-so of others. There are at least three problems for virtue/ credit views associated with testimony. First, if anyone deserves the credit for one coming by a true testimonial belief, it would seem to be the testifier not the recipient of testimony. Second, one commonly predicates testimonial knowledge of children despite the fact that they are gullible and thus not skillful recipients of testimony. Third, results from social psychology challenge the idea that we are at all reliable in monitoring others for trustworthiness, deceit, or competence. In this talk, I develop an anti-individualistic virtue epistemology, and I use it to resolve these three supposed shortcomings of virtue epistemologies and credit theories of knowledge.
“Who Should Rule? Aristotle’s Theory of Constitutions“
ABSTRACT: According to Aristotle’s theory, kingship, aristocracy and polity (politeia) are good constitutions. In all of them the rulers govern for the common good and not for their personal advantage. However, among scholars it is disputed which of these three constitutions Aristotle prefers, and how his outline of the best constitution is to be understood. The talk introduces this controversy and argues that Aristotle’s political preference is an aristocracy in which the morally and intellectually best citizens rule. It concludes with some reflections on whether such a constitution could serve as a model to reform contemporary democracies.
TB130, Friday 1/03/2013, 5-7pm.
"Propositions and Compositionality"
ABSTRACT: In his classic paper 1980 paper, "Index, Context, and Content", David Lewis argued that the existence of "shifty phenomena" like tense rules out semantic theories for natural languages which are both compositional and treat propositions (relative to contexts) as the semantic values of sentences. Since Jeff King's 2003 paper "Tense, Modality, and Semantic Values", Lewis's argument has been widely thought to admit of a fairly easy reply: it has been thought that Lewis's mistake was to treat shifty constructions as sentence operators rather than quantifiers, and that once this mistake is corrected, we can have both proposionality (i.e., propositions as the semantic values of sentences) and compositionality. I argue that the shifty constructions discussed by Lewis preclude the combination of composionality and propositionality independently of whether they are treated as sentence operators or quantifiers. In fact, Lewis's critics, who argue for the treatment of certain kinds of shiftiness as quantification, are really playing into the hands of his arguments. The inconsistency between propositionality and compositionality arises even more clearly on a quantificational treatment, from consideration of the relation between free and bound variables. The phenomenon of variable-binding itself is sufficient to rule out the combination of compositionality and propositionality.
"Conceivability, Inconceivability and Modal Intuitions"
Thursday, 5-7pm, TB130
Abstract. According to conceivability maxims, a kind of conceivability is a guide to possibility. According to inconceivability maxims, a kind of inconceivability is a guide to impossibility. Conceivability and inconceivability maxims face a challenge from defenders of intuitions as a source of justification. They claim that the epistemically relevant kind of (in)conceivability will have to involve an intuition of (im)possibility in order for the maxims to come out true; hence, the modal intuitions are doing all of the epistemic work. The aim of this talk is to argue that a number of options are available to the defender of a conceivability or inconceivability maxim in response.
“Turkey and the Emerging World Order”
3-4pm, Albert Long Hall
2013 Hrant Dink Memorial Lecture, under auspices of the History, Sociology, and Political Science departments.